EXHIBITION DATES  May 4th - June 18th, 2006

Jesse Reichek’s sources for the 218 works in this series,
done between 2001–2005, were the myths of


In this series of paintings, Reichek comes to the end of his magisterial work, undertaken over the last 15 years of his life, to offer a reflection on the great spiritual journeys of the species: creation, mortality-immortality/paradise and death.

No human experience is as universal—yet as unknown—as death. One cannot know if death is an instant of ending, a transition, or a condition after the event. In the United States, death is differentiated as a clinical, legal, and religious occurrence. Every culture has evolved myths of death, often linked to creation and rebirth. Most often it is not understood as a destination but a cycle, not as an end but a means. Myths about death are often connected to a path of spirituality, to a preparation for an afterworld or an underworld. Often the myths of death tell a story of struggle, between gods or between god and man, which could be expressed as a question: Was god required for man or man required for god?

In the Greek story of Orpheus, a mortal, not a typical hero, faces death by traveling to the Underworld to accomplish an extraordinary task and then returns—without the favor of a God. Reichek’s paintings may be viewed as such an epic journey.

Among the many texts engaged by Reichek were the 4,000-year-old Egyptian Book of the Dead, better understood as “The chapters of Coming/or Going Forth by day.” These chapters/books contain a collection of spells, charms, passwords, numbers and magical formulas, lavishly illustrated, produced before death for use in the afterlife. One of the largest was 78 feet on 37 different sheets. Because they were commissioned by individuals, no two chapters/books were the same. The chapters/books contained a particular fascination for Reichek, and one can imagine that in these, his final paintings, Reichek was preparing his own coming or going.

These paintings are a negotiation with the unknown—a path Reichek charted at a very early point in his life as a painter. In these final paintings there is also the unrestrained passion of a lover, embracing the unknown. Through the absence of color and the precision of color, the existence of form and the pursuit of formlessness, it is as if the painter is presenting the viewer with a challenge to imagine something where there is nothing. A partnership in creation.

Yet, in the paintings, as in the Books from The Adoration of Ra, there may be heard the subtle voice, “May I burst into light like a purple flower remembered by a lover.”

Barry Weisberg
Chicago, Illinois, Apr. 2006

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The following photographs of the exhibition were taken by Jonathan Reichek:


The following photos by Jonathan Reichek were taken of selected paintings from earlier series of Jesse's work which were hung on the center and end walls of the exhibition space.





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Works from 1947 to 2005

Creators Equity Foundation
2324 blake street • Berkeley, ca • 94704
PHONE:  (510) 514-8188  •  FAX: (510) 665-4893
email:  reichek@dslextreme.com

website address:   www.reichek.org