Bender Gallery is honored to present One Day I Will Disappear, a solo exhibition of current paintings by Czech American artist Tom Pazderka. His captivating work is deeply personal and is an elegant metaphor for life’s darker side: of landscape, of nature, of memory. The exhibition runs from July 3 through August 31 during regular business hours. There will be an opening reception for Pazderka on Saturday July 3, from 6 to 9 PM by RSVP only.
Pazderka is a painter, an installation artist, an intellectual, and a writer who spent his undergraduate years in the Asheville area. He was born near Prague in 1981 during the waning of the Communist era in Czechoslovakia. He lived in a panelák, a Soviet-style concrete apartment block, until emigrating to the US in 1994 at the age of twelve. Contrary to what we may envision in America, Pazderka has fond memories of his time there. Although life was basic and creativity was not encouraged, his family was never in need and they enjoyed regular visits to their family cottage in the country. However, most of Pazderka’s life has been lived in the US and he also considers himself American. His work and life are deeply influenced by what he describes as the “incompleteness of the immigrant experience”. Pazderka explores humanity’s quest for a universal truth. The work reflects his reverence for history and the failed Soviet promise of utopia of his native land. It is thus a balancing act between this history and his assimilation into the capitalist consumer culture of the United States.
The works shown in One Day I Will Disappear consist of oil, ash, and charcoal paintings on burned panel and paper. They feature clouds, mountains, portraits, ephemera, and remnants of nature. They are conceptually dark, yet haunting and beautiful at the same time. Pazderka uses humble materials such as found plywood panels that he burns with a torch before beginning the painting process. He transforms the painting surface with the destructive, yet creative power of fire. He states, “Materials and process are components of the work that are as important as the image and what the work is about”.
Pazderka chooses to work in a colorless palette reminiscent of aged black and white photographs. He explains, “Photographs interest me because it is a tangible memory, but photographs are really residue of the photographic process.” They are themselves a memory of a memory. Much of Pazderka’s work is based on old family photographs and photos taken from nature and architecture relaying the past, the present, and the hope of a better future. The work appears otherworldly and fleeting, like ghosts of his memories. In Pazderka’s words, “The present is all there is in the end.”
Pazderka holds a BFA from Western Carolina University and an MFA from U.C. Santa Barbara. He has received many awards and fellowships and has held residencies in the US, France, and the Czech Republic. He lives and works in Ojai, CA.