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Through the years, Pentak has honed his distinctive technique for mark making and experimenting with light and composition, aiming for “the balance between representation and invention.”

Although his process continues to evolve, his latest works exude a Zen-like calm and proficiency. The paintings put one in a peaceful mindset — the best vantage for considering the nuances of image, paint application and texture.

His approach is rigorously consistent. Starting with a base layer of golden yellow, Pentak builds densely forested landscapes by dragging palette knives and large brushes across a wood- panel surface. He digs down to the yellow base to form a hard horizon between land and the still, reflective bodies of water that take up much of his compositions. The backgrounds are panoramic, while the foregrounds are dotted by sparse collections of trees — often birches, with their white bark formed by the delicate lines of individual bristles.

His overall aesthetic is clean and minimal but also light and gestural, as seen in the way daintily daubed leaves hover around the foreground trees without the benefit of being attached by branches. The choice to add elements in close proximity against a distant horizon helps to bridge whatever psychic distance might be created by the austere nature of his style.One is also drawn by the vivid, subtly blended coloring and simple, elegant beauty found in each piece.​

--Melissa Starker, The Columbus Dispatch (April 22, 2012)​

Read the complete Stephen Pentak review: The Columbus Dispatch