Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Whizz-Bang! Ebullient "Now-ism" at the Pizzuti Collection

Anselm Reyle, untitled, 2011.Mixed media on canvas, 89-5/8 x 88-5/8." View as one enters the building.
Everything about the second season's show at the Pizzuti Collection astounds and thrills. Ron and Ann Pizzuti, exuberant collectors of contemporary art, have turned their own house inside out so that lucky we can live with its splendors until June of 2015. The only things missing among this abundance of singular, beautiful, and high-spirited work are fainting couches and fans: Some of us may grow dizzy, exploring the carnival of brilliant colors, optical illusions, innovations and subversions inside this show's sparking energy field. 

This is the first show I've seen in which every work included was made in the 21st century: What a wonderful surprise this was to me. The Pizzuti's have been the first believers and buyers for many of these artists. The couple has been collecting others for a long time. Everything in the show was picked with love and appreciation, not only with an eye to market value. But when you're at the show, you won't have to be told that: The investment in pleasure is more than evident.

Dion Johnson, Moonlight, 2009. Acrylic on
linen, 72 x 48."
Detail, Johnson's Moonlight, showing how the
 linen'sweave modulates each color,
undercuttingthe illusion of "solid color"
I'll be writing more in the future about individual pieces and artists in the show. Here, I want to convey a sense of the vivacity that makes Now-ism so irresistible. Whatever turn you make toward a new gallery, or up the stairs, a bold, big, and brilliantly colored work greets you. If painting had hips, their hands would be on them, luring you with their defiant self-confidence, with their smirking mysteries.

The show is hung with an eye for these bravura moments. Whenever you decide to move along, you are put in the position of encountering a simplified, high-impact visual event. Each of these explosions of color and intrigue—each a feast in itself—merely opens the door to a room of excitement. There's always more to come, as my future posts about this show will illustrate.

Brian Porray, "!===FL4M3JOB===/", 2011. Synthetic polymet, spray paint, paper
on canvas. 96 x 216."
But the message that Now-ism calls from every lobby, landing, and portal is, "Come this way; come in; we want you here!" The building's gray, cool, low-affect interior does not simply not compete with the works, it actively supports their brilliance by contrasting effectively with them.

One of the truly fabulous moments is turning south from the first floor lobby and catching a view of Brian Porray's aptly named, "1===FL4M3JOB===/". Aptly-named, I say, because I'm probably not the only person rendered speechless by the size, brilliance, hilarity, and aggressive inscrutability of this painting. Its detail, viewed through the neutral lobby passage is like finding a playmate when you've been alone indoors for a week.

This is a treat that only grows, for as you approach the room, and  enter it, you discover that the painting is over twice the size you'd come to expect. It's hard not to burst out in laughs of simple high spirits when you step into the room, the work is so immense, bright, and bursting with life. It's a room of it's own; it's a life of its own in which any viewer can spend days, moving back and forth across the room for views far away—it's like intergalactic space—or close up, when it looks, despite dribbles of paint and other crude lapses of technique, like samples of the well-wrought handicrafts in paper or quilting cotton or enamel.

In door, Sarah Cain, Kiss, 3013, acrylic, beads, and string on canvas. In foyer,
Jim Hodges, Constellation of an Ordinary Day, 2002. Wood and metal panel,
ceramic sockets and lightbulbs,  in two parts.
Advancing up the stairs to the third floor, the visitor ascends into another vivid and playful scene, this time composed of two works that may as well have been installed by an interior decorator, they make such a playful and pretty pair.
This feels definitely to me as if I've come to a feminine quarter, pink and polka dotted, pastel undercoated until Cain's black band and big, red X remind us that Pirate Jenny was a girl too. Once you've passed the light installation, you can no longer see the two pieces at one time. But this lovely entrance—up the stairs and across the landing—left their similarities in my mind. The diamond shapes, the rounds with spaces between them, the dark spots mixed with light ones: These similarities left the memory of each in the other.

There are so many reasons to venture forth into the world of contemporary art, and the Pizzutis' Now-ism makes as simple and direct a case as possible for doing show. How could any show be more fun than this? Why should you go? Because you like pink. Because you like shiny things. Because you like dramatic things, or puzzles, or things that make you laugh. This is a high-spirited, high-jinx show, where every doorway and every gallery is an invitation made as alluring as possible. This is definitely a show to bring children to, for they nearly always have to right attitude around art like this. Ask them what it's about: They'll have an answer. But you'll enjoy it anyway, even without child guides. See it soon so you'll have lots of chances to go back.

Self portrait of the writer in Anselm Reyle's, untitled, 2011

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