To perceive, in the darkness of the present, this light that strives to reach us but cannot — this is what it means to be contemporary.
— Giorgio Agamben
The cusp of the third decade of the 21st century celebrates the underground survivors of the unabated domination of conceptualism in the art world which froze out organic expression arising from the human touch.
Not to be deterred, Zadik Zadikian made a heroic escape from behind the Iron Curtain to forge his own passage through Uncertainty as an artist. Drawing on his ancient heritage to breathe new life into the crucial matter of art as mater (Mother) birthing the spirit of a new age.
The triumph of this eternal quest is what makes Zadakian the standard bearer of a 21st century neomodernism.
By way of plunging into the archaic and denying the art world fashion of conceptualization for his alchemical pursuit of spirit in matter, Zadik Zadikian arises with a neomodernism celebrating the feminine power in organic forms that are remarkably alive in their stillness. Reflecting on the power of movement within stillness is how this contemporary is defining 21st century art.
“This work is about the outside. How does the outside impact us? We can fight against influence, we can shut our eyes and yet somehow there is a change,” states Zadikian. “Like a night sky, like countless worlds we cannot touch, this process is the attempt to find and see our foreign elements, our foreign ideas.”
The Human Touch
The Zadikian human touch dominates the focus of his awareness of his range of symbolic subjects presented here as a sample of his vast ouevre — his signature abstracted figurative portraits revealing traces of his fingerprint.
Reflecting on the power of movement within stillness is how Zadikian is defining 21st century art. “This work is about the outside. How does the outside impact us? We can fight against influence, we can shut our eyes and yet somehow there is a change,” he states. “Like a night sky, like countless worlds we cannot touch, this process is the attempt to find and see our foreign elements, our foreign ideas.”
The new emphasis on authenticity in the culture is encapsulated in the powerful visceral presence pregnant with meaning of the Zadikian oeuvre. Amorphous shapes are united in the artist’s Midas touch which placed his early classical works, informed formal training at Erevan Art Academy, into museums of contemporary behind the airing Curtain.
The artist’s intention to reverse his formal training to play with terra-cotta catalyzed his decades of perfecting a process of injecting spirit into matter (mater/mother) through various forms of collaboration with his audience.
Sourcing a Vocabulary in Gold
The artist entered the New York art world in 1969 after a daring escape from the Soviet Union which landed him in San Francisco beforehand, where he worked on large-scale public sculpture installations in the Brancusi lineage. In the New York art world of the seventies, the artist worked on projects with the legendary Tony Shafrazi, his lifelong friend and dealer.
In the New York art world of the seventies, the artist worked on projects with the legendary Tony Shafrazi, his lifelong friend and dealer. His 1978 project “1000 Bricks Gilded in 24 Karat Gold Leaf” distilled his alchemical vision of transformation within the minimalist focus on everyday material.
“Gold having become his unifying material, like an alchemist he transmuted everything into this noble metal — from ancient stone reliefs to alien like figures. These auric works recreated worlds beyond the realm of everyday thought, bordering on the threshold of the Timeless and the Eternal,” writes Shafrazi. “His concerns with art dive into nature’s most fundamental structures. Units of everlasting elegance on which higher forms are born, always paradoxically mixing the extravagant with the simplest of form.”
Working in gold leaf represents the crowning achievement — a solar consciousness bestowed on royalty — arising from the artist’s internal/external marriage of spirit/ matter in the tradition of the alchemical Great Work.
Reviving Ancient Symbols
Taking the ancient symbols and icons and reshaping them through his own vision is what every artist should be doing today on the cusp of an exciting new era of holistic art of the hieros gamos within/without.
Like Reuben Nakian, his fellow contemporary marking the middle ground between abstraction/figuration as a new modernism in the late 20th century, Zadikian draws on his ancient heritage to incorporate the eternal symbol with his timeless approach to sculpture.
The artist defines the 21st century contemporary infused with the archaic through a persistence with organic process and the reworking ancient symbols with new meaning defined through his materials. While rejecting the notion of formality, whether it be in the art or gallery presentation, the artist has returned onto the arts scene with a major personal statement timed to the present zeitgeist.
The ongoing hermeneutical motif arising throughout the works on display is the triad or triangle. This sacred geometry is manifested in varying degrees of figuration/abstraction returning the human as a central figure in art from the electronic obsessions of the past decades.
Zadik Zadikian Lady in Pink (Hydrocal 8 x 13 x 9 in)
With the neomodernist, the literal manifests as the marriage of form and content
Here the triangle points to/away, from The Birth...
Interlocking Triangles/Six-Pointed Star
The interlocking duality of light/shadow in Six Points (Double Triangle) incorporates the symbol of the 21st century icon of the hieros gamos (sacred marriage) by way of 22 unique triangular pieces, the number representing the mastery of the alchemist in transmuting the blackness of lead into gold.
The artist explains his use of magic in number (22 is the Master of form: 11 Master Number X 2):
Every single triangle was sculpted individually so that they can survive by themselves as of total finish work and together they form another pattern: the 11 black triangles versus 11 gilded with 24 karat gold leaf. Extreme black absorbs all the lights and pure gold reflects all light. The balance of this to like forms enter weave so perfectly that creates mystical pattern that has entrancing powers I can think of and those qualities are very important in this work.
— Zadik Zadikian
The mystical Yod, known as the Finger of God, is embodied throughout the Zadikian ouevre as the magical manifestation of spirit and matter, the inside/outside of a contemporary philosophical symbol: the Möbius strip.
Zadik Zadikian Inside/Outside (Bronze 2 x 1 x 1 in)
The Sacred Marriage of Opposites
Zadikian articulates his vocabulary of the sacred marriage in the complementarity of opposites. An example here is Stacks in gold (Sun) and aluminum/copper (Moon/Venus).
Zadikian also establishes the polarity of opposites in the erotic tension between his chosen materials. Botticelli incorporates sensuous curves by way of hydrocal mummified in red burlap for a personal signature incorporating feminine desire.
Zadik Zadikian Botticelli (Hydrocal Mummified with Burlap 81 x 123 x 9 in.)
Botticelli reflects the multiplying effect of the sensuous immersion into the 21st century neomodernist perspective.
The Birth of the Third
Zadaikian’s original perspective manifests in his corpus as embodied spirit and matter evoked through form, color and material.
This is past/present/future mater/mother giving birth to…
…the Third space of the in-between where the 21st century icon is made visceral as the inner containment of Eros, newly defined as the dynamic integration of the tension between opposites.
The marbleized pink coloration highlighted in Zadikian’s erotic shapes sensually merges the tension of hard/soft into a divine wedding of vertical/horizontal replacing the cross as an icon of soul surrender. The strength of his material yielding to the demands of form reflects a newfound personal power of the object as anointed subject arising from the embodiment of masculine/feminine.
The Master takes what is old as human civilization and makes in New. Zadikian’s sculpture are the emergent master forms of the 21st century symbol of the Möbius Strip in which interior is indistinguishable from exterior. The culmination of this half-century process makes Blossoming Lips the ultimate transexual champion of a new perspective of art as outer expression reflecting an inner quest for balance.