So What?

So What?

Barbara Rachko

Soft pastel on sandpaper, 2011

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

Available matted & framed (28.5 x 35 in)

20 x 26 in. (51 x 66 cm.)


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About Barbara Rachko

Barbara Rachko is an American contemporary artist and author who divides her time between residences in New York City and Alexandria, VA. She is best known for her pastel-on-sandpaper paintings, her eBook, From Pilot to Painter, and her blog, “Barbara Rachko’s Colored Dust.” Barbara has led an extraordinary, inspiring life. She learned to fly at the age of 25 and became a commercial pilot and Boeing-727 flight engineer before joining the Navy. As a Naval officer she spent many years working at the Pentagon and retired as a Commander. On 9/11 her husband, Dr. Bryan C. Jack, was tragically killed on the plane that hit the Pentagon. Barbara uses her large collection of Mexican and Guatemalan folk art – masks, […]

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