Vincent Smarkusz

Undiscovered American Genius in Modern Art

Figure Studies 2

Abstract overlays of color washes appeared in Vincent's earliest figure studies

Smarkusz first experimented with a loosely applied and abstract use of color washes in the pen and ink studies he created while commuting to Hartford Art School in 1940.  While these may appear to be just roughly executed value studies, they are also much more than that.  In hindsight, we see how they are the earliest indication of a technique he will later develop to great effect. 
By interrelating stylized figurative forms with abstract fields of color, Smarkusz creates a new layer of perception between the figurative and the abstract - one which exposes the oscillating nature of both the figure-ground and subject-object relationships.  Although he would always represent human foms and themes, Vincent was quickly becoming an abstract and conceptual artist. 
This Figure Studies 2 gallery shows the subtle genesis of that technique and concept, discovered through experimentation at a young age - perhaps temporarily forgotten - but permanently imprinted on his imagination.  Smarkusz will later develop it through his surreal and abstract "Fusionism" dreamscapes - culminating to full maturity in the “Aura View” style of Figurative Expressionist portraiture he created in the last decade of his life, and right up until his death in 1974.
Early in 1941 however, Vincent chose to leave art school to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corp.  On his 22nd birthday of Feb. 18th, he signed up to serve his country, and would endure five long years in WWII.  He would ultimately serve as an aerial gunner on an A-20 fighter-bomber over the Philippines and Okinawa, Japan.