"Samuel Bak's astounding imagination peels the veneer from the world of appearances to show the lineaments of trutha truth both unearthly and earthy, transcendent and objective, enameled yet piercing. In our time, the genius of Samuel Bak has no peer: his historical penetration is matched only by his metaphorical insight."—Cynthia Ozick
Samuel Bak’s series of paintings, New Perceptions of Old Appearances, is a tribute to the power of the metaphorical imagination. His pears play many roles, challenging the viewer to interpret their enigmatic presences without having to search for a single dogmatic meaning. They are stoic in their solidity, but vulnerable to decay. In some guises, they shine with the beauty of succulent fruit, but in others they fall victim to the violence of history and the decay of time. As a substitute image for the familiar apple of Eden, they offer us a chance to review with fresh vision the struggle of modern civilization to wrest from our fragile universe a viable mode of communal existence. While some of his pears, teeming with fertility, proclaim the inherent dignity of artistic form, others remind us, as they are consumed by fire or sacrificed on strange altars, of what Bak has called the “ineffaceable tragedy and sadness” that has been part of our lot as human creatures during the past hundred years. His images are both ripe with life and haunted by death. As signs of our mortal condition, their relevance to the contemporary scene scarcely needs explication.
Lawrence L. Langer is Alumnae Chair Professor of English Emeritus at Simmons College. His publications include The Holocaust and the Literary Imagination, Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory, Art from the Ashes: A Holocaust Anthology, and Preempting the Holocaust.
Distributed for Pucker Art Publications
9 x 11.25, 124 pages, 119 color illustrations