Paul Resika first came to Provincetown in 1947, at 19, to study with Hans Hofmann. Now 71, Resika himself has become the master of color and gesture, balancing freedom of gesture within tightly organized composition, with an eye as true as a sailor's compass to the relationships and contrasts between colors, shapes, and textures.
His piers and boats and fish houses, archetypes of a seaside fishing village, vibrate and float, recede into the shadows and mist, throw their own black shadow on the yellow, sun-blazed side of a shack – all dependant on his masterful juxtaposition of colors on the canvas – and so charge the canvas with soul and energy, that the viewer, too, is activated, stirred, way down deep, where sensual memory resides.
An important body of work includes a group of small pastels, "Figures on the Beach," drawings the artist has made during family gatherings on the beach, "late in the afternoon when the light is beautiful." These luminous drawings echo mythical scenes and are filled with evening mysteries and intimacy and sensuality. Resika has recently begun to explore printmaking, creating a lyrical series of boats and clouds.
Recent paintings present intensely colored improvisations on Resika's signature pier paintings, a motif he never tires of, one he compares to jazz in a recent interview in the Cape Cod Times:
When someone asked [Coleman] Hawkins how he got such fantastic improvisation [in Hawkins' classic rendition of "Body and Soul"], he said by playing and playing over and over again. In other words, the most improvised thing is the most ordered, rehearsed thing. For five years, I was out there painting every day, but I never get bored because I was in a trance. You have got to be in a trance to make art work."
That's about as close as Resika comes to explaining his art.
Paul Resika was born in New York City in 1928. He began taking painting lessons as early as 9, greatly encouraged by his Russian ßmigrß mother, and studied with Sol Wilson when he was 12 years old. In his late teens, he studied for two years with Hans Hofmann. He was early influenced by the paintings of Joseph De Martini. At 19, the young Resika had his first one-man show of paintings at the George Dix Gallery on Madison Avenue.
For much of his 20's Resika traveled in Europe, settling in Venice for two years, studying independently the Venetian painters. He returned to the US in 1954. In 1958 he began to paint outdoors and has not stopped since. By the 60's he was again exhibiting and had begun to build a reputation for his landscapes. Since 1964, Resika has spent winters in New York and summers on the. A longtime summer resident of this extreme end of the Cape, where he lives high on a dune overlooking Pilgrim Lake. He spends a month each spring painting in southern France.
The artist has had one-man exhibitions at the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College; Graham Modern Gallery, Joan Washburn Gallery, Century Association, Artists Choice Museum, Lori Bookstein, and Salander-O'Reilly Galleries in New York City; Hackett-Freedman Gallery in San Francisco; Lizan Tops in East Hampton, NY; Long Point Gallery, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, and Berta Walker Gallery in Provincetown.
He has participated in group shows at the National Academy of Design; American Federation of Arts; Hirschl & Adler in New York; Zabriskie Gallery, School of Visual Arts, Museum of Modern Art in New York; Swarthmore College; Smithsonian Institute; American Academy of Arts and Letters; Art Institute of Chicago; Artists Choice Museum; Graham Gallery; Graham Modern, and many others.
He has received numerous grants and awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and election to the National Academy of Design. His work is in the collections of Chase Manhattan Bank, Dartmouth College, Willem de Kooning, Exxon Corporation, Joseph Hirshhorn Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Academy of Design, Sara Roby Foundation, Weatherspoon Art Gallery, Greensboro, NC; and Provincetown Art Association and Museum, among others.
Paul Resika credits Berta Walker for contributing greatly to his success. She first began exhibiting and selling his work in 1984 when she was Director of the Graham Modern Gallery in New York.