Kenyon College

Compliant To Yellow


Julian Stanczak

Compliant To Yellow. 1980.
Acrylic on Canvas.
Courtesy of Collection of Neil K. Rector.


Compliant to Yellow employs a grid format to cultivate the appearance of luminosity. Yellow and orange hues radiate from a dark background mimicking the brillance of the sun. Drawing on the paintings made by Moholy-Nagy in the 1920s and by Rothko and Poons in the 1950s and ‘60s, Stanczak layers warm, vibrant colors onto the cool surface of the canvas. Stanczak was introduced to theories of relational color by Josef Albers during his tenure at Yale. This introduction to color theory prompted Stanczak to work in a mode of perceptual abstraction, which is often termed Optical or Op-Art. The artist’s calculated interplay of colors and geometric shapes is radical, especially given his background. Stanczak was classically trained in painting in British Uganda during World War II. He lived there in a Polish refugee camp after escaping from a Siberian labor facility, where he lost the use of his right arm. Today, Stanczak lives in Cleveland, where he taught for years at the Cleveland Institute of the Arts. He describes finding release in his abstract canvases, which allow him to escape from his past into an “anonymity” of pure colors and non-objective forms.

Harrison Curley ‘15