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Exhibition of recent acrylic paintings on paper by Deborah Buck opens at Julie Saul Gallery
Deborah Buck, Black and White, 2011. Acrylic and glitter on paper, 21 1/2 x 29 1/2. Photo: Courtesy Julie Saul Gallery.

NEW YORK, NY.- Julie Saul Gallery announce its first exhibition of recent acrylic paintings on paper by Deborah Buck. The exhibition corresponds with a survey show of her work at the Garrison Art Center (April 7 to May 6th, Inside Out) . An illustrated catalog with an essay by Lilly Wei is being published in conjunction with both shows. Copies are available to the press on request.

The title of this show refers to the centralized forms, which are the “subject” of her paintings; wrapped objects at the same time very anthropomorphic that are both inviting and slightly sinister. Her vocabulary of form is distinctive and grows out of organic surrealism. The push and pull between attraction and repulsion in Buck’s forms Wei suggests is “about decay, about past present and future states, a comic book Pop Surreal version of the theme of vanitas.” The combination of rich colors (burgundy and turquoise), deep tones and the occasional glitter also add to the dark but playful allure of her work.

Wei suggests “there is a remarkable continuity in Buck’s output, in her wrapped ripening, morphing shapes with their inner secrets.” She also suggests that the development of the image is almost sculptural with the drawing moving towards painting in a layering process from which the final form emerges.

Buck has been painting since her youth and after befriending Clyfford Still she was a resident of Skowhegan at the age of 18. She also has involved herself with design, collecting and selling antiques, and teaching (at SVA). Buck’s energy is barely contained by her paintings.

Deborah Buck’s painting informs all of her endeavors, including forays into design and entrepreneurship with her Upper East Side gallery, Buck House. Originally from Baltimore, Buck credits her early artistic and intellectual development to her encounters with the legendary Abstract Expressionist painter Clyfford Still, a family friend, who mentored her as a teenager after reviewing her work. “He talked and I listened,” Buck recalls. “He told me, ‘Nobody can teach you to paint; you already know how to do that. But if you want to be taken seriously, you should learn everything you can about the world around you: religion, politics, design, science.’” As Still opined on the painters and critics of the day, his council made a true impact on the young artist. “Even at so young an age, I knew I was in the presence of something large,” Buck remembers. After winning the Skowkegan Medal for Painting from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine, Still recommended Deborah to attend the program on the full scholarship given in his name; she celebrated her eighteenth birthday there among a group of much-older artists.

After graduating with honors from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, Buck accepted a position with the Becker Group, a subsidiary of Walt Disney Productions, where she designed animated displays for installation throughout the United States, and abroad; she credits daily drawing and engineering exercises with helping her painting practice. Buck began exhibiting her work professionally during the 1980s and following her move to New York City in 1990. Buck will present her work in a solo exhibition at Garrison Art Center in Garrison, NewYork, in 2011.

Buck began to shift her attention back to design while collaborating with architects, metal smiths, and other artisans on the renovation of a rambling, pre-war apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side that she and her husband purchased in 1999. “I designed it and found that my home became my painting—two dimensions became three,” says Buck of the space, which hadn’t been touched in 25 years. Her efforts were ultimately documented in the November, 2005 issue of Elle Home Décor. The couple’s country home in Garrison, New York, also designed by Buck, was featured in the magazine’s December, 2008 issue.

In fall 2001, Buck opened Buck House, an art and antiques gallery situated on Madison Avenue. Operating as a successful business, Buck House often hosts members of the art and design communities. “Having been inspired by turn-of-the-century Parisian intellectual salons, I sought to create a creative gathering place of my own in that fashion—as a place for artists and creatively-minded individuals to meet.”

Deborah’s most recent works on paper reveal her fluid use of pastel and acrylic paint. She continues to explore the interplay of surrealism and abstraction in her work, where her long-held interests in absurdity, romanticism, and the darker side of fairy tales lend a strong narrative sense to her practice.

In 2007 Buck joined the faculty at New York's School of Visual Arts Design program, where she teaches a seminar for Master’s thesis students. “The energy students bring to the classroom feeds my head,” she says. “I tell my students: ‘only you can put you in a box.’” Buck sits on The Board of Trustees of The Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.

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