Soft pastel on sandpaper, 2011
Matted & Framed. Framed size is 28.5 x 35 in.
The Black Paintings is a series of pastel-on-sandpaper paintings that use cultural objects as surrogates for human beings acting in mysterious, highly-charged narratives. In the Black Paintings the figures (actors) take central stage. All background details, furniture, rugs, etc. are eliminated and replaced by intense dark black pastel. Each painting takes months to complete as Barbara slowly layers and blends up to 30 layers of soft pastel.
The idea for the Black Paintings began when I attended a jazz history course and learned how Miles Davis developed cool jazz from bebop. In bebop the notes were played hard and fast as musicians showcased their technical virtuosity. Cool jazz was a much more relaxed style with fewer notes, i.e., the music was pared down to its essentials. Similarly this series evolved from dense, complex visual compositions into paintings that depict only the essential elements—the actors. As the series evolves what is left out becomes increasingly more important, resulting in more demands being placed on the viewer. – Barbara Rachko
20 x 26 in. (51 x 66 cm.)