Samuel Bak, Young Vilne, 2002, oil on
canvas, 24” x 18”
Art Gallery Presents Two New Exhibitions – Works By Samuel Bak
By Catherine Wright,
UNH Art Gallery
Paintings and drawings by renowned artist Samuel Bak, as well as recent
works by three accomplished UNH alumni are showcased in two exhibitions
opening at The Art Gallery, UNH, on January 19. The Art of Samuel
Bak: Memory and Metaphor and An Eye on Alumni: Elise Freda, Betsey
Garand, and Martha Groome run though April 12. A preview reception,
open to the public, will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 18, from 5 to
The Art of Samuel Bak: Memory and Metaphor presents 47 drawings and
paintings by this prolific artist whose rich body of work is based
on his early childhood memories of the Holocaust. Utilizing the power
of symbols and metaphors, Bak visually relates the pain caused by
war and human destruction, evoked by the haunting memories of his
past. He successfully creates a visual language to interpret the loss
of childhood, traditions, and loved ones.
Born in Poland in 1933, Samuel Bak endured life in the Jewish ghetto
of Vilna and showed early signs of being an artistic prodigy. He and
his mother were the only family members to survive; they moved to
the newly formed state of Israel in 1948 where Bak furthered his studies.
Subsequently he lived in Paris, Rome, New York, and Switzerland, before
moving to the United States in 1993. Bak’s paintings—landscapes,
still lifes, and figurative works—are filled with symbols and
metaphors that represent his memories of the town of Vilna and the
destruction of the Holocaust.
The exhibition, The Art of Samuel Bak: Memory and Metaphor, is organized
in conjunction with the Pucker Gallery, Boston. The exhibition is
funded in part by grants from the FEDCO Charitable Foundation, the
UNH Center for the Humanities, and the Greater Seacoast United Jewish
Appeal, with additional support from the UNH Endowed Fund for Holocaust
Education, the Friends of The Art Gallery, the Dean’s Office
of the UNH College of Liberal Arts, and the S. Melvin and Mary Jo
Rines Art Exhibition Fund. An illustrated catalogue of the exhibition
is available for purchase.
Running concurrently is the exhibition An Eye on Alumni: Elise Freda,
Betsey Garand, and Martha Groome. Focusing on recent work created
by three graduates of the University of New Hampshire’s Department
of Art and Art History, this exhibition showcases how each of these
painters utilize organic and geometric abstraction to explore their
unique artistic visions. The encaustic paintings of Elise Freda (BFA
’81) reflect the contrasts discovered when natural shapes and
forms respond to the changing qualities of light and atmosphere. Inspired
by the pictographs and petroglyphs of indigenous peoples, Betsey Garand
(BFA ’81) creates works that examine the entwinement of natural
and geometric shapes. Works by Martha Groome (BA ‘67) demonstrates
how the reduction of the number of elements found in a painting leads
to an examination of illusion, color relationships, and proportion.
Programs held in conjunction with the two exhibitions include:
ArtBreak Series: Wednesdays at noon
Jan. 25 Film: Samuel Bak: Painter of Questions is introduced by Dr.
Jeffry Diefendorf, professor of history & associate dean of the
College of Liberal Arts, UNH. Room A219,
Feb. 1 Gallery Talk: Painter Martha Groome discusses her work on view
in the current exhibition An Eye on Alumni: Elise Freda, Betsey Garand,
and Martha Groome.
Feb. 8 Slide Lecture: Japanese woodblock printmaker Keiji Shinohara
discusses his work and printing techniques. Room A219.
Feb. 15 Gallery Talk: Renowned artist Samuel Bak discusses his work
on view in the current exhibition, The Art of Samuel Bak: Memory and
Feb. 22 Concert: Joyful Rain, featuring flutist Ellen Rondina and
guitarist David Newsam, present a blend of unique musical harmonies.