Barbara Rachko:  Paintings

Subject Matter: Cultural objects–Mexican masks, carved wooden animals, papier-mache figures
Medium: Pastel

The Black Paintings series of pastel-on-sandpaper paintings grew out of my Domestic Threats series (which evolved and reached a natural conclusion after approximately fifteen years). The new series continues my use of Mexican folk art—masks, carved wooden animals, papier mâché figures, and toys—as surrogates for human beings acting in highly-charged narratives. But now the figures (actors) take central stage. All background details, furniture, rugs, etc. have been eliminated and have been replaced with a dark black background.

The initial idea for Black Paintings emerged from my study of jazz history, especially the modification of bebop by Miles Davis into cool jazz. In bebop the notes are played hard and fast as musicians demonstrate their technical virtuosity. Cool jazz is a much more relaxed style with far fewer notes played. The music is pared down to its essential elements but the technical expertise is still clear. My new series parallels this. It is evolving from complex, dense compositions to an emphasis on the actors in my narratives.

Begun in 2007, this series is my most personal body of work to date. The black background symbolizes death, chaos, and confusion. The actors have emerged from a deeply painful state. This state is still with them but it is somehow now also behind them. They are thriving with renewed life and newly found vibrancy, clarity, and focus. My current work arises out of this deep pain. The series reflects the last seven years of my life as a 9/11 widow.

Barbara Rachko was born in Paterson, New Jersey and grew up in a New York City suburb. She graduated from the University of Vermont with a B.A. in psychology. After college, Barbara earned a commercial pilot’s license and Boeing 727 flight engineer’s certificate, then spent seven years on active duty as a Naval officer. In 1986 while working at the Pentagon, she began to study figure drawing and medical anatomy, and began many long years of developing her craft. Barbara subsequently resigned from active duty (but remained in the Navy Reserve and retired as a Commander) to devote herself to making art. On 9/11 Barbara’s life was changed forever when her husband, Dr. Bryan C. Jack, was killed on the plane that hit the Pentagon. Dividing her time between residences in New York and Alexandria, Virginia, Barbara enjoys a busy career as a professional artist. She is represented by six galleries throughout the United States, exhibits nationally and internationally, and continues to win accolades for her unique work.

For information you may contact
Barbara Rachko at:
phone: (212) 643-6293

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