all images copyright Nathan Zap
Nathan painted during two brief periods of his life. 1951-52 and 1976-79 with most of his paintings produced in 1977-78.’ His technique might be regarded as basic (he was entirely self-taught), but many of the images have powerful visual elements that seem like X-rays of the unconscious. The images are always concise, never busy, and there is strong sense of visual authority. In the spring of 2012 when I encountered these paintings again while doing some work at my parent’s house I was astonished at how many of the images had symbols of the singularity archetype. Most of the paintings featured spirals and some seemed to be images of what, in my book, Crossing the Event Horizon—Human Metamorphosis and the Singularity Archetype, I call “homo gestalt”— a telepathic network. Another parallelism is that my dad’s most prolific year for painting, 1978, was the same year that I began work on the Singularity Archetype and wrote about it in a philosophy honors paper, Archetypes of a New Evolution. I recently wrote an oracle card based on my dad: No Safe Walk Through Life. When I showed my parents a slide show of the paintings on my laptop, my mom, who recently read my book, was also astonished at the profusion of Singularity Archetype motifs. She asked my dad (who turned 93 that week and has some cognitive issues) what he meant by all the spirals. “They were meant to be symbolic.” he replied. “Symbolic of what?” she asked. “I’m not sure, space possibly.” he replied.
I named the collection “Nocturnal Visions” because so many of the images are nocturnal and have black backgrounds but also because they were mostly created very late at night. My dad was always a night owl and the paintings were done in the basement under florescent lights at a time when most people, even other New Yorkers, were inhabiting the dreamtime.
The paintings were not stored very well and many of them are in distressed condition. Many were painted over existing paintings. I photographed them with a point and shoot camera and available lighting. They are presented in no particular order.
This 1978 painting actually has an eye at the center of a spiral. In my book I wrote: “If you wanted to reduce the Singularity Archetype to an icon, you would probably end up with an eye at the center of a spiral.”
This image has Homo gestalt aspects.
This painting was based on a Kodachrome slide I took of a roller coaster with colored lights silhouetted by a sunset. My dad asked to borrow the slide to make the painting.
For some reason our cats seemed to be obsessed with this painting and would stare at it for long periods of time.
Crossing the event horizon? Seems like an image of transitioning to another age.
This one is dated 1952 and the next two are also from the 1951-53″ period. The best two paintings from that era are presently MIA
This painting stikes me as an image of Homo gestalt
This painting has the strongest Homo gestalt elements with what looks like telepathic lines of force between the figures.
This appears to be the last painting as it is the only one I’ve found dated 1979. It is also the image where the most is known about my dad’s intentions. It was supposed to be of deceased figures crossing the river Styx. The flying figure is the angel of death.
See also: In Memoriam Nathan Zap 1919-2012 (at least scroll down to the epilogue because an image—see above— appeared the morning after his funeral that might have been his last painting, sent from the other side, with some willing suspension of disbelief)
More about Nathan can be found here: No Safe Walk Through Life