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Buster Levi Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of works by seven gallery artists: Vincent Baldassano, Ada Pilar Cruz, Jenne M. Currie, Eric Erickson, Barbara Smith Gioia, Martee Levi and Maria Pia Marrellla. The focus of the exhibition is the diverse ways different artists explore geometry and/or gestural marks within their work.
Vincent Baldassano’s recent work is inspired by ancient sites that he visited as well as by historical churches and the visible evidence of centuries of Italian culture. Most are “rendered in lunette and gable end shapes,” reflecting their architectural sources. The painting in this show, Altar of Madness, is based on the interior of a church or temple. The frontal viewpoint helps to emphasize a symmetrical geometric structure that Baldassano emphasizes through bold color contrasts. However, his use of freely applied lines and marks that both delineate objects, plants for example, and also at best suggest other objects appear far less tied to the geometrical structure of the architecture. Some of the marks and lines almost appear to float within the space creating a tension between a solid architectural space and one activated by personal response.
Ada Pilar Cruz’s work in this show is an abstract ceramic relief. It is based on alabaster stone slabs that were beneath fountain spouts in ancient cities. The water from the fountains created semi-circular depressions or "pits" over time. Cruz describes her process; “ I went into my studio and gauged the circle spaces to create a game board, that is played with stones. They reminded me of the game mancala, in which strategies are based on mathematical thinking. The seemingly precise pits made from the erosion of water along with separation of the spacing between the indents, also made me think about mathematical calculations.” The circular forms in the work are arranged in patterns that are not quite regular. Cruz is intensely interested in process and evidence of her hand is present throughout allowing a certain amount of improvisation in the constructing of her forms and the surface of the glazing while also providing the warmth of the human touch in the works.
Jenne M Currie’s work in this exhibit displays a definite dialog with synthetic cubism. Still life objects and their surroundings are flattened into distorted shapes resulting from a combination of multiple viewpoints. The shapes of the objects and space are freely improvised and exaggerated to fit the needs of the composition. Currie integrates flat color, lines and patterns to help emphasize the autonomy of each shape. In addition, a number of the shapes, spatial areas and objects physically exist on different levels as they are constructed from different pieces of wood, painted, and then assembled. The result is a work that exists to some extent in real space making it’s relation to the viewer ‘real’ despite the apparent abstracting used in the rendering of the painting.
Eric Erikson is far more interested in a seemingly accidental or arbitrary approach to composition. Placement is a key, such as the wall of bricks in the painting in this exhibit, which is cropped, by the lower edge of the painting. In addition, the painting process is an integral element in his composition. Erickson employs a wide variety of painting methods in his work that include glazing, thick impasto and drawing with the brush. However, it is his use of erasure that helps to create compositional and spatial tension. Erickson sands portions of the brick wall uniting what should be a foreground wall with the sky in the background, which along with his use of cropping creates a sense of unity that also appears to be slipping away.
Barbara Smith Gioia’s collages are a combination of geometry and gesture. Cut up prints, drawings along with painted areas of a seemingly endless variety of marks, lines and gestural brushstrokes are contained in multiple geometric shapes. These gestures are arranged in a loose grid that includes curves and especially diagonals. Smith Gioia’s shapes containing different linear or brushed activity help emphasize this movement, as they seem to battle it out for their place on the picture plane. In addition, her use of scale creates a shallow depth where her shapes float in and out of depth with no certain anchor on the picture plane. The result is a visible tension between the geometric framework and the array of gestures contained within shapes striving to break free.
Martee Levi’s collages are based on a geometric foundation. She has had a career long interest in cubist space and the golden section as compositional strategies. The work in this exhibit is no exception. It is a collage of painted paper cut into a variety of mostly irregular geometric shapes that are assembled on canvas. Similar to cubism, the shapes push forward to sit on the picture plane. In addition, Levi has employed a series of diagonals and curves to create contrast and movement within the work along with freely improvised lines to emphasize the movement as well as contrasting flatter color areas to textured ones. Gesture is normally associated with movement, in this painting by Martee Levi; geometry is as well.
Maria Pia Marrella’s painting in this exhibition uses architecture to investigate abstract visual possibilities. Her geometric forms appear to be created by a process of elimination through the use of black that seems to paint out a more traditional rendition of the space. The painting includes realistic devices such as blending to suggest form along with others that include linear definition and flat shapes nearly disassociated from their source. Marrella includes columns that help orient the viewer spatially, but behind them her geometric shapes appear somewhat detached from the architecture almost as if what one sees are those objects or shapes revealed in the darkened light. The application of paint is varied and while not really functioning as gestural marks do help to suggest textures associated with a stone building.
The opening reception will be on Friday, April 1, 2016, from 6-8pm. The show will run through Sunday, April 30, 2016. Buster Levi Gallery is open on Friday through Sunday from 12 pm to 6pm.