Art in America
July 01, 1996
Paul Resika at Salander-O'Reilly
by Lawrence Campbell
"The sea was a miracle of calm, a miracle of azure." The words are Joseph Conrad's, but they could fit many of the paintings which Paul Resika has been making since 1984. From a spot on a narrow beach at the end of a passage leading from Commercial Street in Provincetown, Resika is able to look out at a distant pier upon which sit two wharf buildings, like objects on a shelf seen against the light. These two buildings and the boats moored next to the pier, together with the sea water and the sky, have provided for him an endless series of motifs. The intensity of the sky and its color at different times of day is the principal player in Resika's visual drama. Accompaniment is furnished by a chorus of pale and dark grays, misty blues and greens complementing the power of oranges or pinks. Sometimes the color of the sky thrusts into the quiet of the sea, falling athwart the side of a building thus to enlarge itself.
One of my favorites among these beautiful and poetic pictures is “Flowers and Sails” (1994). Two clumps of peonies (or roses) burst upward from a white pitcher resting on a blue and purple table. These colors melt into the blue of the sky and water, while the white sails of a yacht seem like a bird scudding by.
Resika started painting at the age of 11. His first teacher was Sol Wilson, a painter of marine subjects with a studio on Sixth Avenue in New City. The young students usually worked from a "set-up" with model light-house, rocks and sand. Resika's early landscapes were done this way. Only after some time at this were Wilson's students permitted to work outdoors, but by then the concept of the landscape/still life had taken root.
Although he likes to paint outdoors, sometimes finishing the pictures indoors, Resika does not think of himself as exclusively a painter of landscapes, nor does he attribute any particular virtue to the practice. He dislikes what he calls "dumb, photographic painting." "What we want as painters," he says, "is to be free, happy and certain about what we're doing."
It is this happiness and inspiration that Resika is able to pass along to his public.