source for the 117 works in this series,
1988–1990, was the
SONG OF SONGS
for each line of the poem
year-long Reichek Retrospective, containing nearly 2,000 of the
3,000 paintings produced between 1947–2005, closes with The Song of
Songs, also known as the Song of Solomon. Written about 2,300 years
ago, this is the first book of the Five Scrolls of the Hebrew Bible.
It is full with words used but once, with obscure meanings, with
riddles—much like the I Ching, the Kaballah, and the world’s myths.
No other book of the Hebrew Bible has elicited such a variety of
interpretations. This dialectic was surely part of its appeal to
The poem is
set in springtime in the city of Jerusalem. But this is no typical
love story with a proper beginning and ending. It is a poem about
erotic love and sexual attraction, about human pleasure, with no
reference to any higher being. Eros before adulteration with Agape.
Secular love. Unlike the Garden of Eden, which promises a future
satisfaction, the Song of Songs celebrates the satisfaction of the
lovers in the moment. The acts of Eros between humans, as partners
in creation, and partners in paradise. The morphology of pure
of Jesse and Laure Reichek included painting. The paintings, like
the poem, rely on metaphor more than literal expression. The
paintings, like the poem, offer a naïve picture of love, a fresh
embrace, a richness of imagination, and an unrestrained expression.
The paintings, like the poem, offer both locks and keys to creation.
The passion of life’s structures and processes in painting.
Love not as
a burden but as unrestrained pleasure. Lovers who love as equals.
Painting and poem. Painter and viewer. In this poem, the love of the
lovers requires no blessing or sanctification. The paintings require
no title or explanation.
Reichek’s entire work of painting, as was his life, is offered to
us as a lover, without restraint and without coercion. It presents a
deep inquiry into the realms of imagination and creation that resist
and defy explanation. These are the fruits of Reichek’s garden, his
“mountains of spices.” So it was for Reichek, the way of a man who
became a partner in creation.
Before he died Jesse placed a banner in his studio proclaiming
the connection to Laure, “Made Possible by Laure.” Those of us who
have attended these exhibitions can say to Jesse and Laure, none of
this astounding engagement with the great human inquiries would have
been possible without the both of you.
The Retrospective ends with a tribute to love and love is our
tribute to Jesse Reichek.
Chicago, Illinois, June 2006
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