Unlike the pure abstraction of the New York school, Pachner’s Expressionism has always employed figuration, sensuality, intense emotion and a protean variety of approaches to composition and paint. He states: “I want my art to reflect our human experience in the world in its totality, the beautiful as well as the atrocious, the tender and caring as well as the insensitive and murderous…The celebration and affirmation of the beauty of creation must coexist not alternately but simultaneously with the tragic.” While some paintings and drawings may appear delicate, wistful in the application of light and color, others are very dark with the colors mixed in a kind of brown/black abyss, fighting to retain pigmentation and intensity—perhaps a metaphor for the challenges of a survivor struggling to understand his ability to live and enjoy while others were not afforded the same.
“Pachner’s first paintings were illustrative, but he soon recognized their limitations and embarked on a study of the old masters. First the Flemish fifteenth-century paintings captivated him, then Rembrant and Goya. From Cezanne and Picasso he learned modern concepts of form, in Redon, Bonnard, Chagall and Roualt he saw how color could be used expressively…Crucifixion, motherhood, and the embrace,” wrote critic Wallace F. Green. “He saw these not as specific incidents, but as universal expressions of the deepest human emotions…Pachner’s work was characterized by a monumental quality of human dignity. There was compassion for tragedies of martyrdom and loneliness, sensitivity to the erotic quality of love.”
By the 1980s, Pachner’s landscapes had begun to transition. Robert Martin, former art critic for the Tampa Times, has written: “These landscapes have a quality of ‘slowly growing even as we look at them’ because one experiences them in real time, and not all in one glance. Their beauty and meaning reveal themselves slowly. In the process, these paintings actively encourage us to explore our own values, our own real feelings, and what it means to be a member of the family of man— all of which are rare qualities in the art of any era.”
The works on view will be a sampling of these important years in William Pachner’s remarkable life.