2022 Commencement Speaker Sam Bak Opens New Exhibition

November 2, 2023

Artist and Holocaust survivor Samuel Bak, Montserrat’s commencement speaker in 2022, has a new exhibition at, Pucker Gallery in Boston, his longtime representative. In conjunction with the show, he and Bernie Pucker conducted a “WebinART,” now available on the Pucker Gallery YouTube page.

The exhibition, Bak Looks Back, is an artist-curated collection of work selected from across 77 years of Bak’s work. In the exhibition catalog, available here, the 90-year old Bak concludes his introduction to the exhibition with this:

I am still pondering the basic nature of my artistic legacy. I hope that it can be enjoyed for its formal aspects, but it is more. It summarizes my view of the world’s present concerns. An ecological menace that grinds whatever it finds. Social injustice: for certain humans the world is great, for some it is okay, for many others—a perpetual struggle, a mess. Things aren’t what they seem to be. As ever before, people are capable of the worst and the best. Wars and genocides continue to brutalize humanity. Yet life’s force inspires us to overcome all menacing ordeals. Things must be repaired and restored, even when we assume that they will again be destroyed. The timeworn slogan of “enjoy your life, enjoy the day,” isn’t totally wrong. The light on the horizon is always aglow, and the promise of hope, so indispensable for our existence, is forever inscribed into the man-made rainbows of my artistic reporting, they guarantee a whole palette of salvations. Please, take into your hand the brushes that fit, and you will acquit… 

Have I gone too far? 

I know, I know—but think about it—irony provides us with a much better perspective. Irony humanizes us, it isn’t cynicism or sarcasm. It allows for humor. When we are lucky, when there is bread on the table, there is so much to enjoy. Music, painting, good writing, friendships, love, and why not a mini retrospective of… Samuel Bak.

Bernie Pucker of Pucker Gallery has been a long time partner of Sam Bak. Together they’ve worked towards the establishment of both the Samuel Bak Museum: The Learning Center at the University of Nebraska Omaha and the Samuel Bak Gallery and Learning Center at the Holocaust Museum Houston.

Bak Looks Back will be on exhibition at Pucker Gallery until December 3rd, 2023. Bak’s Commencement Address to the class of 2022 can be revisited here.