THE 57TH STREET REVIEW
(Jan. 1976): IAN HORNAK
“INTERVIEW” BY
NORMAN LOMBINO:

Q. How and where did you develop your
artistic technique?

A. I think I picked up my technique as a
child through my interest in art and
copying paintings I liked. I especially loved
Renaissance painting, because it had clarity
and simplification of form and great
organization. When I got to college, I
already had an ultra-realist technique,
which was very unfashionable then
because Abstract Expressionism was “in.”
In fact, at that time I was doing landscapes
and people would say, “Oh, they remind
me of Andrew Wyeth,” not that my work
looked anything like Wyeth’s, but he was
the only realist they knew of. The painters
around me were doing big abstract
splashes and my teachers tried to get me to
“loosen up” and work non-
representationally, tossing in a lot of color
and paint. They didn’t succeed. I had my
own approach when I went to school and I
kept it. My technique has always been
mine. I didn’t deny the beauty of abstract
composition, but I preferred to build up my
visual fantasies with realistic imagery.

Q. Do you find that doing one painting will
lead to the idea or concept of another?

A. Yes. In my work, each painting seems
to be a step towards something. Very often
I do a series of paintings quite intentionally,
and each new painting build’s on and
develops further the aspects of the painting
before- such as the series called “The
Banyan Tree.” I originally did one painting
of a rather impressive tree that I saw in a
Jamaican Lagoon. It was big, dark and
perfectly round with its shadow reflected
in the water. The disquieting, almost
sinister mood of the painting had little to do
with the simple image of the tree against
the sky. Since then I’ve done five versions,
each with a different effect, trying to get at
what really makes that tree so special. The
subject matter is the same, but the mood
changes. Each new painting for me is
solving a new problem.


Q. Solving a new problem within yourself
or stylistically?

A. I think both. Certain painters I know
hook on to a good thing and do it over and
over. I want each painting to go beyond
the last one, to say something new. Of
course, this isn’t always possible. But
occasionally I catch myself painting
something to easily and I realize it’s
something I’ve expressed before. If it’s
too easy, it becomes boring and I wipe it
out. At other times I knock my head
against the wall because I can’t accomplish
what I want to accomplish. It’s certainly
not a simple matter of how to paint a cloud
or a tree, for example, because I’ve done it
hundred’s of times. There are certain times
when I just can’t paint that cloud or tree
because it has to have more than I can put
on canvas at that time.


Q. There is a certain loneliness about your
landscapes, isn’t there?

A. Let’s say there’s hardly ever any
indication of man’s presence. The closest I’
ve come to it may be a little fence in the
distance. I suppose the feeling is lonely
because the landscapes are very still and
cold and man’s presence doesn’t make a
damn bit of difference, while at the same
time they are involved with very human
values. I think my landscapes express the
same concern as my figure paintings.
Because of this, the landscapes take on a
dreamlike, romantic quality.

Q. Do you feel your work to be Romantic?

A. I don’t like the word “Romantic.” It
tends to have a negative and derogatory
connotation in this day and age. However,
the imagery I use- silhouettes against
sunset skies, clouds drifting across hills,
dramatic play of light against mysterious
shadow- is intrinsically Romantic. These
images please me and just happen to be
some of the elements I use in composing a
painting. And that, I think, is the key word:
composing- getting involved with balance,
rhythm and counterpoint in an almost
architectural or musical way. That I am
aware of. The mood comes through almost
in spite of myself.


Q. One final question. How would you
characterize your work?

A. I usually answer that by saying I’m a
Realist who at the moment is painting
landscapes, and then go on to list all of the
reason’s why my paintings are not
realistic. For instance, the landscape is not
meant to be specific a scene to be looked
at for pleasure in the sense of picture-post-
card scenery, but rather as a beginning
place to lead the mind to what is behind
that scene. The outward images are
realistic but the concept behind the painting
is not. It verges on the surrealistic or
fantastic. In fact, my idea of a perfect
surrealist painting is one in which every
detail is perfectly realistic, yet filled with a
surrealistic, dreamlike mood. And the
viewer himself can't understand why that
mood exists, because there are no dripping
watches or grotesque shapes as reference
points. That is what I'm after: that mood
which is apart from everyday life, the type
of mood that one experiences at very
special moments.
Title: Ian Hornak Self Portrait in the manner
of Raphael Sanzio;
Artist: Ian Hornak
Medium: Pencil/Watercolor; Size: ";
Year: Circa 1985; Forest Lawn Museum
Title: Ian Hornak Self Portrait in the manner
of Michelangelo Caravaggio;
Artist: Ian Hornak
Medium: Pencil/Watercolor; Size: ";
Year: Circa 1985; Forest Lawn Museum
Title: Ian Hornak Self Portrait in the manner
of Vincent Van Gogh;
Artist: Ian Hornak
Medium: Oil; Size: ";
Year: Circa 1985; Forest Lawn Museum
Title: Ian Hornak Self Portrait in the manner
of Henri Cross;
Artist: Ian Hornak
Medium: Oil; Size: ";
Year: Circa 1985; Forest Lawn Museum
Title: Ian Hornak Self Portrait in the manner
of Paul Cezanne;
Artist: Ian Hornak
Medium: Oil; Size: ";
Year: Circa 1985; Forest Lawn Museum
Title: Ian Hornak Self Portrait in the manner
of Henri Matisse;
Artist: Ian Hornak
Medium: Oil; Size: ";
Year: Circa 1985; Forest Lawn Mueum
Title: Ian Hornak Self Portrait in the manner
of Rembrandt van Rijn;
Artist: Ian Hornak
Medium: Pen & Ink; Size: ";
Year: Circa 1985; Forest Lawn Museum
Title: Ian Hornak Self Portrait in the manner
of Gustave Moreau;
Artist: Ian Hornak
Medium: Pen & Ink; Size: ";
Year: Circa 1985; Forest Lawn Museum
Title: Ian Hornak Self Portrait in the manner
of Pablo Picasso;
Artist: Ian Hornak
Medium: Pen & Ink; Size: ";
Year: Circa 1985; Forest Lawn Museum
Title: Ian Hornak Self Portrait in the manner
of Jacques Villon;
Artist: Ian Hornak
Medium: Pen & Ink; Size: ";
Year: Circa 1985; Forest Lawn Museum
Title: Ian Hornak Self Portrait in the manner
of Juan Gris;
Artist: Ian Hornak
Medium: Oil; Size: ";
Year: Circa 1985; Forest Lawn Museum
Title: Ian Hornak Self Portrait in the manner
of Jacopo Pontormo;
Artist: Ian Hornak
Medium: Pencil/Watercolor; Size: ";
Year: Circa 1985; Forest Lawn Museum
Title: Song of Zephyrus Variation #II ;
Artist: Ian Hornak
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas; Size: 71 x 45";
Year: 1979; Private Collection
Title: Martin Heades Window;
Artist: Ian Hornak
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas; Size: 36 x 48";
Year: 1980; Private Collection
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The Ian Hornak Estate is now in the process of forming a Catalogue Raisonné of the artist's works. Please contact us at
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Ian Hornak created and sold approximately 2,000 paintings and 4,500 drawings throughout
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