The art of Christopher Pekoc is both beautiful and disconcerting- all at once. Each piece is a universe of its own, and we are drawn closer to each frame by images that are familiar, yet unsettling.
The artwork is photographic in nature, printed on paper and acetate. These photos, most often reflecting parts of the human form, are scratched, sanded and marred in some way. They are then painted, layered, shellacked, and from there cut, and reassembled most often by a sewing machine. The work is tactile by nature and the processes evident; the rough jagged edges are not hidden, but become part of the beauty of the work.
Cleveland artist Christopher Pekoc has exhibited nationally and internationally. His care and concern for materials, tools, and construction- the putting together of pieces- is a direct influence of growing up in a hardware store owned by four generations of his father’s family. The fixing of damaged parts is in his nature.
“All of us have had times in our lives when we are hurt deeply. We need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and move on with our lives. The sewing is about repairing the psyche after it has been damaged,” Christopher Pekoc explains. There is a romanticism in the marred artwork, the premise that even those who are damaged possess an underlying beauty. It is a metaphor for the repairs to ourselves. It is a hopeful message.
The exhibit reflects love and passion for the human spirit, each piece is assembled with attention and care. Humanity is seen through the fragments, held together with zig-zag stitching.
Within the gallery space we get to glimpse the world through this artist’s eyes; the splendor of the rust on the bridge, the juxtaposition of disparate images, the world becomes a collage, and we leave the gallery viewing our world a little differently.
The pinnacle piece of the exhibition, installed on the front wall, is, in a way, an homage to Lake Erie. It is constructed of panels printed with images of water and ships logs. It is unframed, and measures seven feet by nine feet. The panels are held together by rivets, a reference to the ships that traverse the lake, providing needed goods to those on its shore, as well as jobs and livelihoods to those working in the industries lining the shores.
Accompanying the exhibition is a short film, “The Beauty of Damage: The Work of Christopher Pekoc.” This film won the KODAK award for the Best Ohio Short Film in 2010. It is a fascinating insight into the world of the artist.
The exhibit runs through January 5. The galleries are open Tuesday-Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 1-5pm, and are always admission free.