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Sunday            SUN-TIMES    November 20, 1983

PAGE 24        



Art still thrives on N. Michigan

Christopher Lyon


Next door to Zaks, James Varchmin is showing new paintings by Clar Monaco. Monaco's monumental, expressionistic figure paintings are more overtly magical or ritualistic than Sharpe's without sacrificing mystery. His work is about protection from and cleansing of evil.


The four figures in "Drawing Circles" are each engaged in surrounding themselves with protective circles, and one of these has already been set aflame. Fire is the cleansing substance, purifying the figures or consuming sins of the past in "Burning Old Things." Monaco's "The Goat" may be seen as an image of the scapegoat, symbolically bearing the sins of the people, and sacrificed in ancient Israel on the Day of Atonement.


References to the past and especially art history are implied mainly by their absence in Monaco's paintings, as if the figures--and the artist--were trying to escape this past.  Monaco seems intent on stripping his paintings and their subjects of time and its residue, as if anything but their simple presence would be a distraction.


This purging, analogous to the ritual purifications he depicts, leaves Monaco with images whose stark drama approaches theatricality. As his backgrounds have grown darker, like the walls of a cave barely lit by flickering fire, he has edged closer- to this theatrical trap, avoiding it so far by an exceptionally crude and vigorous treatment of his figures.

© Clar Monaco 1977-2016 / All rights reserved.

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