Paul Palnik: The Fine Art of the Cartoon from Generation to Generation


October 27, 1996 - January 24, 1997


Reading Room Gallery
27 W. 17th Avenue Mall
Columbus Ohio

The drawing of Paul Palnik have always been, for me, a gentle art, the work of an artist who understand the power of faith and love. The format he has chosen is the common cartoon image presented in a poster. It is a form appropriate to his generation, raised on the animated cartoons of film and television, and to his subject matter, the human comedy.

Palnik’s work deals with people—the long, the tall, the shirt, the lean, the fat—the war between the sexes, humanity with all of its inspired yearnings and its feral reality. And while his humor, at times, crosses over into the absurd, there is always the Palnik ethic: “Shape up…and geteth thine act together!!” Yet his moral view is not a stultifying demand for unthinking obedience. What is the admonition from the bearded figure on the mount to the assembled multitude in one of his posters? “Thou shalt question authority.”

There are other times when a Palnik work is painfully profound. In Life Is the Music and Nobody Can Resist Dancing is the “dance of the creative, joyous, liberated and boundlessly happy,” as well as the “dance of people who have given up thinking and surrendered their souls to television…” and the “dance of the depressed, worried and self-pitying with befuddled lives and confused priorities…”

My all-time favorite Palnik work is Pitzel in which the artist depicts the power of the inked line transformed into a character who comes alive and shares his experiences and possibilities with me, the reader, and thereby leaves me smiling and at peace.

I look at Palnik’s work and am reminded of the line from Midrash:”Let not a simple parable seem trivial in your eyes, for through it you acquire an insight into the complex law.”

Sidney Chafetz
Columbus, Ohio
September 1995