Sydney Butchkes
The geometric precision and the visual power of Butchkes’ work evolved, starting with oil or acrylic on canvas. His use of color, shading and tone were deliberate and engaging. At first, his paintings were in a traditional two-dimensional format. When working with wood, he designed mathematical patterns with Escher-like contrasts, challenging the viewer to decipher and define the interplay between positive and negative space. He constructed three-dimensional sculpture in wood and metal, experimented with ceramics and boldly-colored Lucite, and created precise, geometric constructions on stretched, painted canvas. What set his work apart was his unique use of veiled shading—he applied acrylic, heavily saturated with water, to create an almost mist-like graduation of color across the canvas. Always mathematical, textural, and sculptural, his work is reflective of his fascination with their interrelationships and how they could best be defined. Influenced by the slash series of Lucio Fontana, the Argentinean-born founder of Spatialism and a member of the Italian Arte Povera movement, it is especially through Butchkes’ three-dimensional work, constructed of taught-stretched canvas over architecturally precise unconventional wooden frames that stimulate the viewer. The eye continuously sweeps across the painting, as shape, form, texture, and color come alive.