Arnold Mesches donates two Paintings to UCF Gallery

October 21, 2015


We are very happy to share the exciting news that our permanent collection has been enriched by a donation of two paintings by eminent artist Arnold Mesches.

The legendary career of Bronx-born, Florida-based artist Arnold Mesches, now 92, spans six decades of studio work, four decades as Professor of Art at the University of Florida, and over 100 solo exhibitions.

Mesches received particular recognition for a series of highly charged politics: “The FBI Files” which were exhibited at P.S.1 in 2002. As a civil and human rights activist, he was considered a “person of interest” by the FBI, and was under surveillance for 26 years. Mesches later reclaimed his own FBI file and used them to produced The FBI Files” collaging these federal documents, along with sketches and vintage photographs.

The paintings we received are DOG EARED 2006 80” X 74” Acrylic on Canvas and IT’S A CIRCUS 2 2004, 80’’ X 110”, Acrylic on Canvas. There were gifted by novelist Jill Ciment, who is married to Arnold Meshes. The paintings belong respectively to the series: Anomie (1989-2006), and It’s a Circus (2004-2005), both of which are inspired, according to Jill Thayer at ArtPulse “theoretical touchstones of Mikhail Bakhtin, who signified carnivalesque humor as a participatory spectacle and social force in cultural transformation; and Bertolt Brecht, whose exploration of epic theater presented a social and ideological forum for political expression and critical thought.”

In all of his work, Mesches focuses on marginalized and forgotten characters- acrobats, waiters and busboys, martyrs and demonic animals. Mesches’s nightmarish visions of the modern world are articulated with dense fields of vividly colored brushstrokes. They are theaters of the surreal, grotesque and absurd, lamenting and satirizing society’s elite and the horrors of human cruelty.

Mesches was influenced by Brueghel and Goya; German Expressionists Ernst Kirchner, Käthe Kollwitz and Anselm Kiefer; and Social Realists Ben Shahn, José Clemente Orozco. His paintings reveal opposing views on establishment issues concerning the working class, economic hardship, war, racial injustice, class structure and power; much like the works of post-World War II figurative Expressionist – Leon Golub.

Mesches maintains studios in Gainesville and Brooklyn, N.Y., which he shares with his wife, novelist Jill Ciment.

UCF Art Gallery is proud to receive these important works, and we are looking forward to offering them as a resource for our students.