Ken Aptekar

Ken Aptekar

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Courtesy of Wasserman Projects
Artist: Ken Aptekar
Archival pigment ink print, face-mounted to plexiglas
40" x 40"


Ken Aptekar uses the history of art, primarily classical painting, as his lexicon to bring past into present. He activates painting to create a dialogue with contemporary viewers. To this end, Aptekar appropriates images from existing works, then transforms the composition, color, and scale, often radically. He links these new interpretations to the original historical sources to express their relevance today. Beyond modifying and reproducing the image, he further breaks the past, dragging old masterworks into the present with his unique artistic strategy. Holes are drilled in the plywood substrate and thick plate glass is bolted over the surface, inscribed with his associations to the image. These words boldly riding over the surface of an obviously historic image form a kind of concrete poetry, inviting the viewer to consider what they are looking at in the context of today’s more familiar world. Sometimes humorous, always dissonant, the effect is powerful, and often reverberates in viewers’ experiences contemplating other historical works.

Further deepening the experience of this dialogue between the past and present, Aptekar has produced numerous museum and gallery exhibitions around the world in which his works have been shown alongside the sources he used. Important projects at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC, the Corcoran Museum in Washington, and the Musée Robert-Dubois-Corneau near Paris, have caught the interest of leading critics and intellectuals.  Born in Detroit, Aptekar divides his time between New York City and Paris.  His works may be found in numerous public collections in addition to those listed above, including the Denver Art Museum, Jewish Museum, NYC; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City and the National Museum of America Art, Washington,  D.C.



Wasserman Projects is a contemporary art space, established in 2012 and housed in a former firehouse in Detroit’s historic Eastern Market since 2015. Wasserman Projects works with artists from across disciplines and around the world to present exhibitions and performances that will spark a discourse on art, but also cultural, social, or political issues, which are particularly active and timely in Detroit. Guided by a spirit of collaboration, Wasserman Projects seeks to facilitate meaningful visual and performing arts experiences, promote creative and economic growth in our community, and help artists bring to fruition new projects that may not otherwise be possible.