Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

DiGiovanni shows new direction at Hungry Eye, opening on Wednesday

Hungry Eye Gallery
838 Whalley Avenue West Rock Ave Entrance, New Haven, (203) 494-9905
Featured Artist: Steven DiGiovanni
Through June 28, 2009.
Opening Reception: Wed., June 17, 6—8 p.m.

Press release

New Haven artist, ArLoW resident artist and Creative Arts Workshop Drawing & Painting Department Head Steven DiGiovanni is the featured guest artist this month at Hungry Eye Coop Gallery. As a neighbor to both Jennifer Jane Gallery and Hungry Eye, we are pleased to have Steven be our first Guest Artist.

Artist Statement by Steven DiGiovanni:

The works I have been doing in the last two years represent, for me, a period of terrific energy, play and experimentation. I switched media about one year ago from oil on primed canvas to acrylic on unprimed canvas. My imagery has changed significantly with the change of media, from realistically depicted figurative narratives to a much more graphic and collage-based imagery. Each of my images seems to evolve quite separately from the images that precede it. As I work I am often driven by the accidents that result from pouring, splattering and staining the unprimed material. Each effort results in a different emphasis whether it be graphic, physical or illustrational. I am now reluctant to commit fully to any coherent narrative space. Rather, I prefer that the imagery and space remain open and fluid. I draw images from digital camera snapshots, internet image searches, and my imagination. I enjoy navigating multiple layers of reference and manipulating modalities that lead to a more free-associative narrative structure. I sometimes look at the oil paintings which preceded my current efforts and miss the lush, deep surfaces which distinguish them from the shallower, more graphic acrylic media. However, I have not yet experimented with and experienced the enormous range of technical possibilities that acrylic materials can provide and I find the immediacy and freedom of the acrylic liberating and enervating. I am enjoying a new vigor in my work effort.

My review:

There are three new paintings by DiGiovanni on display in the Hungry Eye Gallery. These acrylics on canvas mark a real shift for DiGiovanni, who has specialized in precisely articulated figurative and (mystifying) narrative oil paintings. Working with acrylics has freed up his approach.

His brush strokes are more vigorous. Using a lot of thinner in his paints, DiGiovanni is drenching his canvases in fluid, dripping colors. Figurative imagery remains at the core of his work. But he's drawing his inspiration less from photographing friends and acquaintances (with the exception of his partner Chisato) and more often from pop culture and advertising detritus. I could see references to rock band logos (the Buzzcocks), record covers, advertising imagery and mechanical drawings.

In his earlier work, DiGiovanni often hinted at a narrative. His figures were often posed in domestic interiors in ways that suggested some obscure drama of alienated relationships. But these narrative hints were linear. The new works have more of a collage feeling, as though they derive fictive inspiration from the avant-garde cut-ups of William S. Burroughs.

DiGiovanni has always been content to leave room for the viewer to complete the artwork with their own imagination. Now, he leaves the actual surface "unfinished." In the work in the center of the room, imagery overlays imagery. Line sketches are overpainted by blocks of color and precisely rendered text. It is a bold move, one that allows DiGiovanni more compositional freedom without sacrificing the strengths of his draftsmanship and grasp of the figure.

There will be an opening reception for this mini-show this Wed., June 17, from 6—8 p.m.

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