This month, Cheim & Read presents Marco Pariani: Trees and Traditions, an exhibition of new paintings and drawings by the Brooklyn-based, Italian-born artist that marks his second show with the gallery. Citing Christmas trees and decorations as a secondhand reference point here, the show casts an ironic eye on the stress, materialism, and forced good cheer endemic to the holiday season, with Pariani focusing in particular on the inflatable decorations that bloom across suburban lawns and town squares as the holiday approaches.
However, the artist never directly quotes the appearance of these oversized ornaments, whose images he has downloaded from the internet. His canvases — teeming with sprayed dots and lines, embossed textures, oil stick slashes, and brushy, agitated paint strokes — occupy a fluctuating, ambiguous space between figuration and abstraction. Pariani might take a color from one screenshot and a shape from another, gleaning ideas from as many as a dozen sources at a time. His compositions reflect both the instability and the simultaneity of the internet, where images crowding the screen flit in and out of sight with the click of a mouse. The new paintings are enriched by intaglio patterns along the borders of the canvas to suggest an ornamental frame enclosing, though not quite harnessing, the wildness of the painted image. Pariani spends up to a week preparing the canvas ground — multiple coats of gesso tinted various colors — but then completes the painting in a single improvised, performative session that can last a few hours or the entire day. He never revises the image after he finishes it, allowing it to remain an ever-fresh container of the spontaneous thoughts, emotions, conflicts, and solutions that went into its making.
With these works, Pariani explores the range and properties of pigment with increased intensity. His grounds, which have been muted or neutral in the past, now also include bold fields of color — blazing yellow, red, and orange, icy cobalt and midnight blue, and raw, bottomless black. Throughout, the sensations and few subtleties of these original images are buffed out, leaving only maximalist color and raw feeling.
The show closes November 12th.
– D. Creahan
Marco Pariani: “Trees and Traditions” [Exhibition Site]