Adam and Eve in the Art of Samuel Bak
Essay by Lawrence L. Langer
The story of Adam and Eve, as it has come down to us in the Book of Genesis, follows a familiar pattern: creation, God’s injunction against eating the fruit of a single tree, temptation by the serpent, violation of the divine prohibition, God’s displeasure, and Adam and Eve’s banishment from Paradise. In his new series of paintings Samuel Bak extends the narrative beyond the expulsion when Adam and Eve must contend with the challenges of time and history, the hope of eternal bliss in Eden now only a dim and fading memory. They are in search of a destiny they can call their own, and they appear in various guises: impoverished shtetl residents, fashionable middle-European couples, Holocaust-threatened victims—in short, envoys of modernity with a focus on Jewish experience during the past century. The echoes of covenants broken or unfulfilled accompany them in their wanderings, and the bond between them varies as often as the paths they follow, from images of shared intimacy to portrayals of bleak estrangement. Bak challenges his viewers to embrace a posture of visual listening, inviting them to hear the silences and see the absences that inhabit his canvases.
2011, Pucker Art Publications and Syracuse University Press
Slip cased hardcover measuring 9 ½ x 8 ½”
120 pages with full color images