Peter Sacks: Resistance, the artist’s first solo museum exhibition, will be presented by the Rose Art Museum from August 25 to December 30, 2022. Sacks, an expatriate from South Africa, achieved stature as a visual artist for his intricately layered and textured mixed media compositions. Expanding on the two-dimensional conventions of canvas painting, Sacks has developed a personal language of heightened dimensionality and tactile delicacy through his particular choice of materials. Peter Sacks: Resistance presents over 90 never-before-seen portraits of those who have defied political, racial, or cultural oppression over the past two centuries.
“The Rose is honored and excited to host such an important and timely exhibition. Drawing on his anti-apartheid activism and multicultural experiences, Peter Sacks creates an inspirational group of individuals – artists, writers, philosophers and political activists from around the world – who have resisted oppression in various ways. Bold and layered portraits will confront the viewer as a call to action and invite ethical responses to the brokenness of our world,” explains Dr. Gannit Ankori, Henry and Lois Foster Director and Chief Curator, the curator of the exhibition.
Sacks has been creating the portraits over the past two years. The topics range from Nelson Mandela to Nasrin Sotoudeh and Rosa Parks to Volodymyr Zelenskyj. Each face is embedded in a haptic composition of fabric, paint, personal belongings and text that conveys a sense of their lives, historical background, struggles, acts of resistance, imprisonment or exile and sometimes their deaths.
The people portrayed have a special meaning for Sacks: “Many of these characters have inspired me throughout my life, in both intimate and public ways. I hope they will do the same for viewers. My relationship with most of these personalities was long and deep. My experiences in South Africa have exposed me to more than enough political and racial oppression, but also created an ongoing need for models of resistance.”
In addition, the exhibition will include an audio collage of the voices of numerous contemporary literary, political, social and cultural figures reading excerpts they have selected from the writings of resistance fighters. The recording features the voices of Teju Cole, Carol Gilligan, John Kerry, Henry Louis Gates, Bill McKibben, Julian Brave NoiseCat, Claudia Rankine, Colm Tóibín, Elaine Scarry, Bryan Stevenson and many others.
“Many of the people portrayed became powerful leaders and sources of courage for one another – and I hope they become for those they meet in the exhibition,” notes Sacks. “Ideally, the show evokes a community among its subjects. The hope is that it will also conjure up another community among its viewers.”
Peter Sacks: Resistance pays tribute to generations of resisters who use the power of art to pass their legacy on to future generations. There will be an opening ceremony on Wednesday 21 September from 18:00 to 20:00 and various programs and workshops will be held in connection with the exhibition. The museum will also publish a fully illustrated catalog of Sacks’ portraits.
About the artist
Peter Sacks (born 1950, Port Elizabeth, South Africa) lived in South Africa and spent the first 19 years of his life in his native country in the eastern city of Durban. Sacks teaches at Harvard University and has also published several volumes of poetry. His artwork is in numerous private and public collections worldwide, including the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA; The Collection of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Johannesburg; The Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African and African American Art, Cambridge, MA; The Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Oxford; and the Beyond Borders Foundation, Edinburgh.
Peter Sacks: Resistance is curated by Dr. Gannit Ankori, Henry and Lois Foster Director and Chief Curator and Professor of Fine Arts and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University.
This exhibition is generously supported by Geralyn Dreyfous, Nina and David Fialkow, Marni J. Grossman, The Heineman-Russell Foundation, Richard & Hinda Rosenthal Foundation and Angela Westwater, Sperone Westwater.
About the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University
The Rose Art Museum encourages community, experimentation and new knowledge through direct engagement with modern and contemporary art, artists and ideas. Established in 1961, the Rose is one of the pre-eminent collegiate art museums in the country and home to one of New England’s most extensive collections of modern and contemporary art. Through its exceptional collection, support for emerging artists, and innovative programming, the museum serves as a community, arts and social justice connector for Brandeis University and beyond. Located just 20 minutes from downtown Boston, the Rose Art Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.