Kes Zapkus

(American, born in 1938 in Lithuania, lives and works in New York City)



From “Notes on my Painting”


"I would prefer for my work to first be seen in accord with my intentions for it. I believe my specific vision carries the prime expressive potential of my work and feel that this is the primary lens that it should be viewed through. The work should occupy the gaze of the viewer for an extended period of time, undergoing a process of consideration similar to that which I undertook when organizing the piece.  It is the viewer’s subsequent right to give the work a life outside of this base of comprehension.


I believe I am not making objects, pictures, or societal symbols, signaling a departure from traditional painting aspirations where image, narrative, design, or process can be codified. I have sought to build my painting on a different premise, constructing visual parallels to musical composition through numeric, episodic, associative, and formal constructs. Reflecting my contemporary experience, my aesthetic prerequisite has been to indicate vast semiotic and informational fields. I have taken a maximalist approach, addressing simultaneity and complexity in a nonhierarchical, cross-referential mode. This orientation has been crucial to my work from 1959 through the present.


I see pictorialism as the bankrupt aspect of the art of painting. The overwhelming presence of commercialization and mechanical pictorialization makes handmade “pictures” inconsequential through modes such as photo, film, TV, and computerization. I am not interested in making a trivial image commodity. Instead, I want to compose with a rich, visual language and a minimized pictorial function, allowing painting to operate at the level of its basic human roots by becoming a testimonial to the emotions, the hand, present time, and careful consideration."


- Kes Zapkus



Kes Zapkus is an American painter born in Lithuania in 1938. He has exhibited extensively internationally and his work is in prestigious collections in the USA and abroad notably The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, Joseph Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., Museum Boymans‑van Beunignen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art, FL, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, Morgan Library and Museum, NY, NY, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA. Exhibitions include retrospectives at Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, and The Vilnius Museum of Art, Vilnius, Lithuania, coincident with the publication of a catalogue Kestutis Zapkus, with essays by Lucy Lippard, Sandra Skurvida, and Marjorie Welish. Zapkus lives and works in New York.



TWO COATS OF PAINT Two Coats Selected Gallery Guide / March 2018
7 March 2018
THE BROOKLYN RAIL KES ZAPKUS: New Paintings by Hovey Brock
March 1 - 30, 2018
June 16, 2016
ART IN AMERICA | KES ZAPKUS by Robert Berlind, March 2009
THE NEW YORK TIMES | KES ZAPKUS by Helen Harrison, August 21, 2005
ARTNEWS | KES ZAPKUS by Marjorie Welish, April 1988
ART IN AMERICA | KES ZAPKUS by Kenneth Baker, March 1985
THE VILLAGE VOICE | BATTLE CRIES by Lucy R. Lippard, December 4, 1984
ART IN AMERICA | Art Tranquil, Art Defiant: KES ZAPKUS by Lucy R. Lippard, Summer 1982
THE NEW YORK TIMES | KES ZAPKUS by Grace Glueck, November 27, 1981
ARTFORUM | KES ZAPKUS: Modern Warfare by Ted Castle, March 1981
ARTS MAGAZINE | KES ZAPKUS by Martica Sawin, June 1979
ARTS MAGAZINE | KES ZAPKUS by Philip Larson, June 1976
ART IN AMERICA | KES ZAPKUS by Patricia Kaplan, September/October 1975