Blue Train


oil on canvas
42 x 60 inches
ST 27


Sam TCHAKALIAN [1929-2004] was a painter, printmaker, and teacher, was born in Shanghai, China in 1929. His family relocated to California in 1947 and, after serving in the U.S. Army, Tchakalian enrolled in San Francisco City College, where he received his AA degree in 1950, his BA in 1952, and finally his MFA in 1958. He set up his studio in San Francisco in 1957 and taught at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1966 to 2001. His oil paintings created with palette knife are complicated reveals of layers of color; they are the signposts of Northern California abstract gestural painting.

"For many years Tchakalian has made abstract paintings consisting of broad horizontal bands applied in expansive, undemonstrative, gestures," wrote Kenneth Baker in an exhibition review in 1991. "But Tchakalian is much more a materialist than are color field painters like Helen Frankenthaler or Olitski (in the 60s), who use light and atmosphere as an abstract code for transcendent intangibles. He is interested in detailing how the possibilities of painting as an art always have been embedded in its physical matter. When he drags colors together (or mingles them with white) to make light seem to sheet through a brush stroke from behind, the effect interests him less than its tension with the inert that makes it possible. Part of the art of Tchakalian's work is in leaving every canvas looking as fresh as if he had finished it at one go."

Sam Tchakalian's work has been exhibited in galleries and museums internationally.