Welcome!

Contemporary Art Collectors and all Art Enthusiasts will discover unique, vibrant pastel paintings and limited-edition chromogenic photographs.
Enjoy a virtual tour of my New York City Art Studio.
Contact me with questions and requests at brachko@erols.com.


  • Studio


  • Pastel On Sandpaper


  • Photographs

     

Meet Barbara

Barbara Rachko is an American contemporary artist and author who divides her time between residences in New York City and Alexandria, VA. She is best known for her pastel-on-sandpaper paintings, her eBook, “From Pilot to Painter,” and her blog, “Barbara Rachko’s Colored Dust.”

Barbara has led an extraordinary, inspiring life. She learned to fly at the age of 25 and became a commercial pilot and Boeing-727 flight engineer before joining the Navy. As a Naval officer she spent many years working at the Pentagon and retired as a Commander.

On 9/11 her husband, Dr. Bryan C. Jack, was tragically killed on the plane that hit the Pentagon.

Barbara uses her large collection of Mexican and Guatemalan folk art – masks, carved wooden animals, papier mâché figures, and toys – to create one-of-a-kind pastel-on-sandpaper paintings that combine reality and fantasy and depict personal narratives. Her paintings are bold, vibrant, and extremely unusual.

Barbara exhibits nationally and internationally and has won many awards during her 30+ years as a professional artist. test.

If Andre Serrano were a painter, he would do a Barbara Rachko. Indeed, the advent of an erotic consciousness that Serrano initiated in the hyperrealist medium of photography now extends to canvas; Barbara Rachko newly interprets painting as the subject/object 'capturing site' of the 360-degree perspective of the hieros gamos.
-Dr. Lisa Paul Streitfeld

Barbara Rachko's antecedents are not in the folk traditions of the cultures she studies and embraces, but rather in the sophisticated strategies of Henri Matisse (who was a master at mixing patterns) and Edgar Degas (who exploited the power of oblique angles and cropped figures).
-Ann Landi

It is undeniable that, like de Chirico, Barbara Rachko has created a unique, original, and very private landscape.
-Peter Dellolio

Your work is majestic. So unique for an American artist. It has all come together to bring a special style and both an elegant and powerfully noble vision. Wish we had more of those qualities in today’s world.
-Elliot Cuker

Rachko has done a spectacular job at allowing viewers to understand her, her approach to art, and her techniques... The diversity of her background and experiences has certainly had a significant effect on her unique and remarkable approach to art, and her ability to consistently create such important works of art.
-Artists.com

Hear Barbara's Yale Radio Interview.

 

Barbara Rachko's Colored Dust

 

BLACK PAINTINGS

“The assimilation of styles and motifs from African cultural artifacts into the work of avant-garde artists was a means of challenging conventional western aesthetic values and hierarchies that reflected what those artists perceived as a vacuous and moribund society. In looking to these sources to invigorate their own creative visions, what these artists actually discovered were new ways of seeing and making art.” - Wendy Grossman in “Man Ray, African Art, and the Modernist Lens”




I am drawn to Mexican and Guatemalan cultural objects—masks, carved wooden animals, papier mâché figures, and toys—for reasons similar to those of Man Ray and the modernists, who in their case were drawn to African art. On trips to southern Mexico and Guatemala I frequent local mask shops, markets, and bazaars searching for the figures that will later populate my pastel paintings and photographs. How, why, when, and where these objects come into my life is an important part of the process. I take very old objects with a unique Mexican or Guatemalan past—most have been used in religious festivals—and give them a second life, so to speak, in New York in the present. When I return home I read prodigiously and find out as much about them as I can.

The Black Paintings series of pastel-on-sandpaper paintings grew directly from the earlier Domestic Threats. Both series use cultural objects as surrogates for human beings acting in mysterious, highly-charged narratives. In the Black Paintings the figures (actors) now take central stage. All background details, furniture, rugs, etc. are eliminated and are replaced by intense dark black pastel. Each painting takes months to complete as I slowly build up as many as 30 layers of soft pastel.

The idea for the Black Paintings began when I attended a jazz history course and learned how Miles Davis developed cool jazz from bebop. In bebop the notes were played hard and fast as musicians showcased their technical virtuosity. Cool jazz was a much more relaxed style with fewer notes, i.e., the music was pared down to its essentials. Similarly my current series evolved from dense, complex visual compositions into paintings that depict only the essential elements—the actors.

Begun in 2007 this is my most personal body of work to date. The black background symbolizes death and emptiness as the actors are emerging from a deeply painful state. Although the Black Paintings series was created out of profound pain, each image manifests irrepressible optimism.

    Please wait...