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 attendimg Hartford Art School in 1940.  They appear to be roughly executed value studies, but 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 forms 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 later developed the effect through his surreal and abstract "Fusionism" imagery of the 1950s, and perfected it in the “Aura View” style of Figurative Expressionist portraiture he created in the 1960s - employing the technique right into the year of his death in 1974.
Early in 1941 however, Vincent had to leave art school when he was drafted into the U.S. Army.  On his 22nd birthday of Feb. 18th, he signed up to enter the Army Air Corp and would serve 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.