WHAT IT IS: PAINTINGS BY ANTHONY PALOCCI JR. by New American Paintings
February 18, 2013, 8:30 am
Filed under: Boston, Review | Tags: Anthony Palocci Jr., Boston, Leonie Bradbury, Lot F Gallery, Montserrat College, Montserrat College of Art Galleries, What It Is
Anthony Palocci (NAP #104) is a thing painter. He likes to paint things, household objects mostly, such as phones, air conditioners and ovens. He likes to paint the things that he sees in his every day life. His latest work on view at Lot F Gallery in Boston features many items taken directly from the artist’s environment. One of the most striking paintings is a huge, blue and yellow tiled shower stall straightforwardly titled Shower, 2013. Palocci includes a bit of white tile floor and a small section of wall both of which add to the lifelike quality of the image. A perspectival tour de force, the painting’s vivid colors and irregular tile pattern invite you to step right in and get wet. Across from Shower hangs the equally graphic and large-scale %Tub, %2012, which features a close-up view of the faucet, drain and knobs from inside the same shower stall. All of the elements are strikingly lit from above, the light causing brightly hued, contrasting shadows underneath each knob and faucet. The drain is painted is such a simplified, direct manner that it almost becomes a cartoon rendition.
To the right of Tub hangs the more somber, Oven, 2012 executed entirely in a grey-scale. The subject this time is the interior of an oven. The viewer is invited to join Palocci in closely looking, as if one just opened the oven door and was peering in alongside the artist to ponder its construction. Palocci chooses to show us a close up view, focused on the details yes, but not in a photo-realist sort of way, but a deliciously painterly one instead. For example, the white grey lines of the metal grate coming towards the viewer are single, elongated brushstrokes that end with the artist slightly twisting the brush before pulling it off the canvas to reveal the brightly colored under-painting underneath.
Palocci starts his paintings with a series of smaller studies mostly on paper, which he, once happy with the result, translates onto the stretched canvas. He begins each one by carefully putting down a contrasting ground; one that he expects will provide a high contrast to the applied colors of the topcoat. In the case of Oven, the under color is bright red; while in the Shower it is a lemony yellow. One of my favorite paintings in the exhibition is Big Fridge, 2012. Chronologically it comes before the bathroom and oven series. It is one of the first larger than life-sized paintings Palocci created of household items. The image excludes the door of the fridge, and presents only the interior and its contents. On the bottom shelf, we see two milk containers, one plastic gallon jug, the other a cardboard half-gallon (although the latter could be juice). On the top shelf, we see a stylized egg carton next to a pint of cream, on the other side of the shelf stands a forlorn six pack with two singles remaining. Each shape is limited to the essential lines needed to relay its formal qualities. The dramatic light source placed in the upper right highlights their curves and panels. Details such as labels and brands are intentionally left off the packaging, the artist goes as far as to paint each model object a matte color to allow him to emphasize the essence of the shape and its formal qualities.
Because Palocci bases his paintings on real objects, they possess the quirky irregularities one can find only in real life. In carefully looking and rendering the visual nature of things, the artist is asking us to look with him and reconsider these everyday items in a new way, as painterly subjects and objects worthy of our contemplation. I hope that the next time I look in my fridge I will see its contents with new eyes, a painter’s eyes.
- Leonie Bradbury, New England Contributor