December 9, 2023 - January 27, 2024
Opening Reception: Saturday, December 9, 1:00-2:30 PM
Dolby Chadwick Gallery is pleased to present a retrospective exhibition of sculptures by Jack Zajac.
Over more than fifty years, Jack Zajac has created a diverse body of sculptural work. His subjects have ranged from animal skulls to flowing water — disparate images united by a desire to capture natural forms and forces and to grapple with themes of purification, sacrifice, and rebirth.
Zajac began his career as a painter, earning recognition for his abstracted seaside imagery; but the bulk of his life has been dedicated to sculpture. After receiving the Rome Prize for painting in 1954, Zajac moved to Rome. Upon arriving at his first studio space there, he was met with a room filled with sculpting supplies belonging to the previous inhabitant. Immediately Zajac became inspired, enthralled by the city’s rich history of classical sculpture and by contemporaries such as Marino Marini and Alberto Giacometti. He took up his predecessor’s tools, making his first foray into sculpture, and has remained captivated by form ever since.
Among Zajac’s first exhibited sculpture was a series of sacrificial animals. This series of contorted, bound goats and lambs, each one wrenched around a stake or entangled on its back in scenes fraught with struggle and biblical tension. He developed elements of this series in a frenzy of creation; during one week, he sculpted a new goat each day as the images flooded urgently through him.
During the 1960s, Zajac created a succession of monumental bronzes, focusing on a series of ram’s skulls, and a series of images inspired by water. In both marble and bronze, he represented falling water, breaking waves, and abstracted swans. The varying patinas of delicate yet powerful shapes of the Falling Water series are reminiscent of a running stream, anthropomorphizing the flowing water with a feminine shape. This series is a stunning embodiment of the duality of water: of both its effortlessness and its tremendous strength.
This retrospective, the artist’s first in over twenty years, serves as a cornerstone and a homecoming. Key works representative of the full spectrum of Zajac’s oeuvre are on view, displayed in dynamic conversation with one another.
Jack Zajac was born in Ohio, and has spent the majority of his life between Italy, Wyoming and California; his work is deeply tied to the rich natural landscapes of each. He currently resides in Santa Cruz where he taught at the university for many years. He has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally, beginning at the Pasadena Museum of California Art in 1951. His work is in the permanent collections of The Getty, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Oakland Museum, among others.