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Transition: from ideas in mind to ideas in code

View of Diamond Lake from Roman's home studio in Minneapolis. 
Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, provides an inspiring environment for artists. 

MINNEAPOLIS. By 1968 my spiritual journey led me to  life outside the cloister.   No longer able to fully embrace beliefs that bound me to the cloister I  departed St Vincent in the summer of 1968 and joined  the humanities faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I  taught world art history, maintained an active studio and was drawn into the world of emerging electronic technologies via Control Data, Honeywell and Univac

Imaging the Unseen (from c. 1969 to c.1980)

While I had studied programming in 1970 and was involved with experimental electronics, I  continued to be deeply engaged with painting and drawing from 1968 to 1975.  My  explorations grew  from an interest in  exploring new pathways in my  spiritual journey.


Mobile Eikon: Mother & Child , c. 1969-70.   Driftwood, acrylic paint, nylon, brass fitting.  
Length (mother) 21", length (child) 4". vertical mobile space 16" plus length to ceiling. 

Perhaps this Eikon speaks to one way I  maintained a continuity with my past as I wrestled with a radical new way of life in Minneapolis. < Click image above for video>

Constructivist Eikons 1968 - c.1972

Eikon Series, #101,  1968-1970.
6" by 6", wood.
acrylic on gesso ground.
Eikon Series, #111,  1968-1970.
6" by 6", wood.
acrylic on gesso ground.

My first new work following my monastic period yielded a series of small icons created with carefully constructed color relationships. Crafted with a gesso base on small panels these works were designed as portable icons with slip cases so they could be carried by their owners in the manner of ancient devotional art. 




Eikon #104,  1968-1970.       
6" by 6", wood.
acrylic on gesso ground.
  #Eikon #106,  1968-1970.
6" by 6", wood.
acrylic on gesso ground.

Following my  radical change of life style in 1968, these works represented  a quest for art objects that could lead to an interior experience that transcended  the material object. Although never exhibited at that time, these works  represented  one of several experimental directions that provided important ground work for his later work with coded algorithmic procedure.   

Eikon #103,  1968-1970.
6" by 6", wood.
acrylic on gesso ground
  Eikon #105,  1968-1970.
6" by 6", wood.
acrylic on gesso ground

Playful Imagination & Automatism

 Playing with the power of human imagination I created a plethora of images that were hidden and largely unknown until 2008 when I  resurrected them for a major project. I digitized selected pen & ink drawings and composed them  with digital technologies for a two story  "Upsidedown Mural" in the Fred Rogers Center for Early Childhood Learning at  St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. For the dedication of the new Center I also created an Upsidedown Book.     

 Eikon # 203 1971. 24"' by 24"", wood.
acrylic on gesso ground.  (M.Fiterman Collection)
   Eikon # 205 1971. 24"' by 24"", wood.
acrylic on gesso ground.

These paintings and drawings represented an effort to bring forth images of the "unseen" from those segments and bits of visual stuff that lay hidden from our conscious self. The goal has always been to bring forth visual form in an art object that does not refer to "other" reality.   For these works I  relied more on an earlier practice of  working with  unedited drawing that was semi-consciously  executed. The tension  between carefully thought out "line-making" decisions and the spontaneous flow of the pen or the expressive gesture of the brush played a central role here and later in my  algorist work. These works attempted to create visual worlds that could stand on their own without reference to other reality.  Continuity with this quest may be seen in the Cyberflowers I  achieved as an algorist over 30 years later. 

 Eikons shown in Imaging the Unseen, West Lake Gallery, Minneapolis, 1972.

Technique and Intention: Masonite boards were sanded and covered with white gesso as the painting ground. The white ground provided the base for better color control and luminosity. Very subtle  color relationships course throughout these paintings.  Color opposites were often mixed with similar value relationships to achieve simultaneous contrasts where the color fields meet. Mixed at approximately the same value, the fields achieve visual vibration at their borders (think of color value equivalents on a black & white scale).  


Untitled. 1972. Pen and ink drawing used for the invitation. Original size about 5" by 7"
  Statement from Verostko's  1972 show at the Westlake Gallery (Minneapolis):

Imaging the Unseen  a series of works shown in Minneapolis and also in London Ontario
See: Review by Don Morrison in the Star & Tribune, 1972. 

Artist's statement for the 1972 show at the Westlake Gallery (Minneapolis):

"Every human person bears within herself a jewel-like capacity - an imagination, a living spirit - which often lies dormant, unable to break through the busyness of everyday life. This human reality remains elusive because its peculiar mode of being transcends verbal and rational categories and we see its sparks come forth only occasionally.

These paintings and drawings emerge from interest in pictorial imagery that stimulates our awareness of and delight in the human imagination. The images contain no conscious symbolism. They are not charged with meanings. I have tried to achieve, in pictorial statement, the flow of "making up" an image and the delight of that human imagining which unfolds the image. In every instance I seek to evolve an image that is  simultaneously unlike anything seen before, yet surprisingly believable in terms of its own reality. I believe that such imagery provides "experience clues" about the nature of realities which are outside the scope of rational consciousness."


Eikon #6, Acrylic on masonite, 24" by 24"
Frames painted by the artist

The Greek word eikon ( εἰκών) for "image" is commonly  spelled and pronounced as "icon" in English.   It has traditionally referred to the holy images associated with both ritual and private devotion in Eastern Christianity <*Note>.  These images were "sensible" forms through which the believer could be led to contemplate or participate in the sacred realities of her belief. The Eikon paintings in  this show strive to embody, in some form of "sensible" image,  a reflection of realities that touch the human spirit but are outside our visible world.

  "Untitled",  Limn Series

The term limn is an archaic verb meaning "to represent in drawing or painting". Limn derives from the medieval English and French words for illuminate whose Latin root (inluminare) meant "to light up" or "to embellish". The illuminated manuscript of the middle ages was intended to "shed light" on the sacred word. The drawings in this show are titled Limns to suggest historical continuity with that aspect of medieval illumination that attempted to shed light on realities known to the spirit, but unseen.

In our 20th century life the treasures of the spirit within us tend to be encumbered with objects, things, and everyday business. To enter one's imagination, to play, to delight in the gift of the human spirit - these are "free" activities that break through that prison and nurture the human experience of life. Through these paintings and drawings I have attempted to enter that imagining mode in the life of the spirit and to evoke some of its treasures.

Roman Verostko, Minneapolis, November 1972

*Note on the term "icon" (eikōn):  In the traditions of Western Christianity the Greek term for image, "icon"(eikōn),  had  taken on a  very special, rather "holy" or "sacred" meaning.  As an art historian  I grew to hold a reverence for "Icons" that were understood to be  devotional images  that were venerated..  Up until about 1984  an "icon" elicited a special respect and reverence even though it was not always used for religious art.. When used in a "secular" way, as in the "iconic" hero, it had a special meaning reserved for an exemplar.    After 1984, with the commercialization of Graphical User Interfaces (GUI's) on computer screens,  the term  " icon" came to refer to the commonplace computer icon.  In the 1990's I struggled with accepting the term "icon" for these images. To call these small screen images "icons" was an uninformed usage that corrupted the term. We lose something when the traditions of earlier generations fade in our language. It is somewhat like the "extinction" of a species.  (This Note added ca. 2010)



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