Family Portraits

Bascha Mon


For quite some time critics said that nothing “new” could be created in the world of art. All the isms had been done – we were left to repeat the past in the age of pluralism. It is now clear, however, that important artists always have something new to contribute. Like a fingerprint we all have something no one else has. Bascha Mon has achieved this singularity in her work and she has inspired it in her students.
The human head is a subject that goes back to the very beginnings of what we know about our visual history. Humans have portrayed the head in an endless variety of ways. Today, technology being what it is, we can draw from almost every culture and time period ranging from prehistoric cave paintings, the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Asians to the tribal arts of the Americas, Africa and Oceania. Nearly all these sources seem combined, recombined, reduced and worked into a pure essence of the human head in Bascha Mon’s sculpture and paintings. With pigments that seem drawn from the earth and rough-hewn surfaces that feel worn to a shadow of a former complexity, Mon’s heads look as if they have been dug up from an ancient past. The simple geometry of prehistoric Cycladic heads are buried in her surfaces as are the classical Greek busts, Asian warriors, the heavily worked, elongated heads of Giacometti, the dark and rueful heads of Roualt, and the simple planes of Modigliani’s women. This syntheses makes the viewer linger over a sense of recollection that is both subconscious and deeply personal.
Ms. Mon’s examination of the human head is deeply compelling for the same reasons she is a successful teacher. She is able to guide her students away from preconceived notions about art into a willingness to tap into and trust their less conscious and unique gifts.

Kristen Accola 2003 Exhibitions Curator – Hunterdon Museum of Art