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Sacrifices and Sorrows: Selected Bronzes by Jeffrey Meizlik
November 10, 2004–January 24, 2005
November 10, 2004–January 24, 2005
Jeffrey Meizlik creates bronze sculpture of exquisite technical achievement. The artist employs the ancient and venerated lost wax casting process to explore central issues of the human condition that remain relevant today. Meizlik's traditional works, often spiritual in content, grapple with the primal elements of life, our memories, our relationship to a deity, and the possibility of an afterlife.
The artist was born and raised in Brooklyn, leaving the city to attend the University of Tennessee in 1964. After returning to Brooklyn he received his Masters in Fine Art at Brooklyn College, studying with Albert Terris and Philip Pearlstein. His work first was shown at the Allan Stone Gallery in New York in 1973, as well as several times later in the decade. In 1976-77 Meizlik worked as a studio assistant to Willem de Kooning. From 1979 until 1987 the artist taught sculpture at the University of Maryland in College Park. He has exhibited in both New York and Washington, DC over the past thirty years. In 1984 Meizlik appeared in a two-person show with Elaine de Kooning in the Vered Gallery in East Hampton, New York. In the Washington area he has exhibited at the Washington Project for the Arts, Salve Regina Hall at Catholic University, and, most recently, at the Arts Club of Washington.
Meizlik's sculpture is born of his interest in ancient civilizations and the vestigial remains of their religious and cultural life. At various times his works allude to his interest in the forms and details of Asian, African, ancient Egyptian, and Norse culture. He greatly admires Chinese calligraphy and Shang Dynasty bronzes. He also finds the language of Viking rune stones compelling, occasionally employing phrases in his own work. Meizlik sees his sculptures as contemporary sacrificial altars, totems, temples, and memorials.
Meizlik's maternal grandmother, who had grown up on a farm in Russia, lived with his family and profoundly influenced the artist's view of the world. What she feared most when young, she told her grandson, was fire and water. These fears infuse Meizlik's works. His sculptures often include birds and fish, representing that which soars above and that which swims below, gravity and freedom, heaven and hell. The animals are cast from nature, from actual dead birds and fish. What was once alive is now dead, memorialized in bronze. Meizlik thinks of these animals as primal temple sacrifices. The artist's success derives from his traditional approach to the exacting craft of bronze sculpture and his consistent references to timeless issues of human concern.