Sasson Soffer "The Abstract Experience"
Tachi Gallery presents its inaugural show with “Sasson Soffer: The Abstract Experience.”
“It’s the chance of a lifetime, really, for a gallery to happen upon a treasure like this,” said Scarpinito, who, by chance, met Soffer’s widow, Stella Sands, and bonded over a love for the art. “You couldn’t find it if you were out there advertising for it throughout the world, actually.”
Soffer, a pioneer Soho artist who died in 2009, trained under Mark Rothko and Ad Reinhardt at Brooklyn College in the 1950s. Though his career began principally as a painter, he slowly moved toward sculptural work that incorporated clay, glass, steel ceramic wall panels and even sewer pipes.
An Iraqi-born Jew, Soffer was forced to flee his native land at age 22, crossing the mountains into Iran by mule. “He traveled by night and slept during the day,” said Stella Sands, as she stood among her husband’s paintings, which were still waiting to be hung. After several years in Iran, where he worked in a pencil factory as well as painted, Soffer went to Israel, then the U.S.
The artist continued to paint throughout his career, much of the work brightly colored Expressionist pieces, some suggestive of a man who never abandoned his roots. He favored the rich Persian blue used in the tiles that cover the mosques and palaces of Iraq, and often used swirling shapes reminiscent of Arabic script. (Soffer’s father was a scribe in Iraq.)
“He always wanted to go back,” Sands said. “He went to Syria and Iran and other places where he could go, but he could never go back to Iraq.”
Scarpinito met Sands through a mutual friend; they were both at the city’s Landmarks Commission for buildings they owned. (Soffer bought the Soho building that housed his studio in 1978, but never rented it out, Sands said, “because he didn’t want to be a landlord.”) Not surpisingly she and
Scarpinito, who has collected more than 1,000 paintings over the past 30 years, got to talking about art—and the Soho studio that held a career’s worth of her husband’s work.
“He was one of those artists who woke up every day and just kept doing his art for himself because that’s what he loved to do,” said Sands, when asked what her husband would have thought about this major show of his work. “He would be astonished.”
From 2011-06-16 To 2011-09-10
Opening Reception on 2011-06-16 from 19:00 to 22:00