Stephen Pentak’s landscapes are peaceful and serene. Radiating inner light, his surfaces are built up of many thin layers of oil paint, pulled and crosshatched one over the other. The bright under-layers of paint gleam through the shadowed upper layers, acting as the sun might on the horizon as it finds its way to the other side of the earth. His approach is rigorously consistent, always starting with a base layer of golden yellow, and building his forested landscapes by dragging palette knives and large brushes across a wood- panel surface. The backgrounds are panoramic, while the foregrounds are dotted by sparse collections of trees — often birches, with their white bark formed by the delicate lines of individual bristles.
Pentak’s paintings are based on his maquettes; drawings inspired by nature, but drafted with a conscious mind to the abstract. He is informed by his surroundings, but holds fast to his freedom to create and invent space. The paintings have changed subtly over his expansive career, as he determinedly works in an extended series. This persistent image is a means to discovery; to exploring light and mastering the balance between representation and invention.
Stephen Pentak received his BA from Union College in New York, and his MFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University. He is Professor Emeritus of Art, and a past Associate Dean of the College of the Arts at Ohio State University.