ARTIST STATEMENT – IRA BARKOFF
When I was ten years old, lying on the ground and looking
up at a blue sky with fast moving cotton-ball clouds. I
thought, “ I have to remember this sky and this beautiful day.
I must remember every single cloud.” Of course, what I really
wanted to remember was how that sky, that day, that
moment made me feel. When I was eleven, I painted a
landscape from my imagination which, not surprisingly, was
my memory of that particular sky.
Although our experience of any moment in time is fleeting,
when I make certain visual/emotional links, I believe those
moments can be recaptured. My landscapes are not literal
depictions of New England, where I paint, but are distillations
if visual/emotional memories.
The artist’s bold paintings that are on view and available at Gregory James Gallery seize viewers’ attention, reflect a heightened aesthetic as Barkoff favors an intuitive response to the power of place, time, and conditions over fidelity to a specific scene.
“My paintings are neither realistic nor abstract,” Barkoff says. “Each is a multi-layered response to how I feel about nature. And while they may seem otherwise, the paintings do not depict a specific time or place, a patch of woods that someone could walk through. Except, perhaps, spiritually … My hope is to transcend the natural world by bringing to life something deeper and more elusive than outward appearances.”
Ultimately for Barkoff every landscape subject—a group of trees, a field, or any scene at a specific time of day—embodies something more than the physical and even atmospheric qualities of that landscape, something that becomes transcendent in the mind and emotions of the artist.
Barkoff says the image of that feeling “is the only thing worth putting into my paintings.”
Poet and art critic Peter Campion credits Barkoff’s method of working with amplifying the intensity of mood and meaning in these imagined landscapes.
Noting that Barkoff works almost entirely with palette knives, producing “heavier texture,” Campion praises the combination of physicality and freedom Barkoff experiences as he paints, a process the artist finds very emotional.
Campion says Barkoff isn’t an Abstract Expressionist hiding in the guise of an American landscape artist, or vice versa, saying, “He’s a painter for whom both traditions fuse, and this always shows in his work.”
Barkoff studied at Art Students League in New York City with Robert Brackman and Robert Beverly Hale, and holds a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from Pratt Institute.
He has exhibited widely at galleries in Connecticut, Massachusetts and beyond, as well as being chosen for many juried exhibitions. His work is in the collections of the Mattatuck Museum, New Britain Museum of American Art, among others, as well as attracting such corporate and private collectors as Pfizer Corporation, Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, and Nelson A. Rockefeller Jr. & Amy Taylor.