San Francisco

“Jack Zajac: Francis de Erdely Memorial Exhibition”

Mills College Art Gallery, Oakland

The sacrificial goat is a theme that has held Zajac’s attention for some years; this exhibition includes several examples from between 1956 and 1960. Their dates mean little as neither their meaning nor their style changed in the interim. The image, its mood, and its meaning for our time were first defined by Picasso at the time of the “Guernica”—the syntax goes back to Rodin cum Marini. Some of the works dealing with the human figure, particularly those on the theme of Metamorphosis, are less obviously derivative, and the drawings, which are for the most part formally unrelated to the sculpture, are the most interesting things in the show. Like the French painter Bernard Buffet, Zajac proffers the hopes and tragedies of modern life in tolerable doses; we are meant to wince—but not too much.

Sentimentality of a more blatant kind characterizes de Erdely’s work; it is best known in southern California, according to the catalog.

Bruce Boice