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        Synopsizing a life I find as difficult a task as synopsizing my artwork. Titles for artwork are not only wasted words, in my opinion, but direct a viewer in a defined direction, which is in direct contradiction to my belief that the visual artist’s job is to provide imagery, whilst the job of the viewer is to bring an open mind with the entirety of their life experiences and meet the artwork halfway, creating in the viewer’s mind multitudes of ideas, possibilities, stories and more. In essence, the moment a visual artist states the name of a particular artwork the viewer has had their mind narrowed; ideas, possibilities, stories, thoughts and more have been reduced, perhaps inexorably. However, due to the realities that galleries and artist’s reps must deal with, I have titled most pieces ambiguously, enough, I do hope. 

        As for the “why” of my work: Structurally it reflects my upbringing next to a canal in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. My color palette on a given piece reflects my childhood in and around the city of Amsterdam, museums, boats and harbors in the Netherlands, my teen years watching 60’s television in the United States, and my early and late 20’s living in or visiting various countries of England, Poland, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Israel. 

        Now for the most difficult task. From where does the content come? At a basic level the content comes from lives lived in the Netherlands, the countries mentioned in the Middle East, and Cyprus, and Poland, digested and spit out here in the United States in the places I have lived from New Jersey to New Hampshire, New York to Alaska, North Carolina to New Mexico and Arizona. These lives that I lived were as different as night is from day. As a child, tourist, kibbutz member, special military unit member, student, educator, lecturer, mountain climber, technical rock and ice climber, grandchild, son and brother, I have been blessed to have been both a participant and an observer.  The glory and fragility of life, of the human body, its soul, physical manifestations of human creativity and ingenuity, and the earth that it all rests upon became intensely focused in my mind. From very, very early in my childhood I was happiest occupied by building with blocks and Legos, or drawing with any of a variety of tools, newsprint the main surface of my expression. For this freedom to express myself throughout my years I can only thank my mother who with forethought gave me not only the opportunity, time and tools I so desperately needed to express myself but also started me out very early in life with weekly visits to the great museums of Amsterdam accompanied by an artist friend for the verbal play by play. The supply of tools continued through my teens when my father took me under his wing. We built a darkroom and my father taught me everything he possibly could about the camera, lenses, enlargers, chemicals etc., everything and anything one could imagine needed for the production of photographic imagery. It was at war, particularly a specific moment, that I had my one and only epiphany. “I need to go to art school in NYC.” The predicament of that moment brought me face to face with the dichotomy, the paradox of war. It was both horrific and astonishingly, visually beautiful. An artist was born, or I could say I was reborn a different man from the one that previously occupied this body, mind and soul. Today I create because I must. 


Alex Zane Nozick

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