Sentinels of Fire
Sentinels of Fire exhibited at the Minnesota Museum of Art in 1990. this introduction is taken from the Gallery Guide written by Roslye B. Ultan, guest curator for the museum. Roslye Ultan was a lecturer in the history of art at Hamlin University.
"Jerome Tupa's artistic sensibility cannot be separated from the burgeoning artistic breakthroughs of the 1950"sand the 1960"s, during which time he was coming of age; or from his deeply rooted religious and spiritual perceptions as a monk and ordained priest; or from his scholarship in French language, literature and culture, especially that of the Fauves, Cubists, Symbolists and Surrealists. Steeped in the profundity of the Judeo-Christian tradition and of Eastern Orthodox practices—with their implied fecund resonances and echoes of Kabbalistic mysticism and of Hermeticism--Tupa struggles in his art for a fusion of these complex elements. In his attempts to reconcile these elements, Tupas has become an artistic exemplar of the mood of the 1980's—a time of questing after and questioning of ideologies, values and identities amidst an atmosphere of expansive awareness.
(---) "Sentinels of Fire" is a series of iconic paintings. The use of the word 'icon' today conjures up everything in art from Andy Warhol's serial image of Marilyn Monroe to Jasper John's cast bronze beer cans and Martin Puryear's post-minimal irregular geometric sculptures. To Jerome Tupa, the term 'icon' refers back to its predominantly religious symbolic association in the Eastern Orthodox Church, especially the Russian icon tradition." (---)
In the 'Sentinels of Fire,' Tupa's complex, paradoxical and passionate nature is revealed in pictorial language juxtaposing highly charged figurative and non-figurative objects. At one level, the multipaneled neo-expressionist canvases of the fertility goddesses, with torn and bleeding flesh and dismembered limbs, depict these beings erotically sprawled on blood-stained lounges-they appear to be in a state of sexual abandon,(---). "Set against these seductive, challenging, figurative forms are the non-figurative 'sentinels'-mystical, abstract, solitary iconic presences that are themselves charged with a rare sexual and (paradoxically) sacred energy. (---) The architectural scale of the paintings creates a vast space for the viewer to enter, as if one were passing through the triumphal nave of a great Gothic Cathedral, where the powerful arches and ribbed vaults reach up to embrace the light streaming through the clerestory and stained-glass windows."