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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Saccio/Saladyga show reception Sunday at Kehler Liddell Gallery

Kehler Liddell Gallery
873 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 389-9555
Joseph Saccio & Gerald Saladyga: Site Unseen
Nov. 4—Dec. 5, 2010
Opening reception: Sun., Nov. 7, 3—6 p.m., with Artist Talk at 3 p.m.

Press release

Kehler Liddell Gallery is pleased to present Site Unseen, a two-person exhibition of sculpture by Joseph Saccio and painting by Gerald Saladyga. This will be Saccioʼs second show at the gallery, and Saladygaʼs debut.

Joseph Saccio is a sculptor who resuscitates life from discarded objects, both organic and inorganic. For this show, trees are the conceptual medium at large and Saccio announces it with vigor in the form of a 15-foot tall circular tempietto (Italian for small temple). With alternating slabs of hallow cedar wood and coils of industrial fencing, “Tempietto” speaks to the inherent ambition and mysticism of nature. This is the story of a tree that exploded itself to become something different, possibly bigger, and half manmade. The interior provides a small space for one person to rest and reflect on fantasies, salvations, and other sites unseen.

Natureʼs inheritance is further pondered in a series of wall-mounted works, which Saccio crafted as memorials to a lost friend. “Requiem for Clint A Thousand Cuts” reads from left to right like a heavy musical scale with oak cross-sections for notes. The composition, honors the life of the oak tree: making accessible the intricate growth rings and vascular rays that circle the innermost heart wood.

Saccioʼs Book Series speaks to our everyday reliance on wood for communication, entertainment, and language. “Leaves of Grass” is a large, open book overgrown with a fern-like moss, the “Book of Catastrophys” is a rotting heap of gossipy magazine page, and a telephone pole sculpture has a book for a belly. Here, pragmatism meets imagination in challenging ways.

Gerald Saladyga is a non-traditional landscape painter who is unafraid of pioneering a 21st century aesthetic. For Saladyga, the romanticism of 19th century landscape painters is out of touch with our reality, which burgeons unpretty things like suburban sprawl, pollution, and human injustice. Thus, his landscapes read more like complex GPS maps and diagrams of cosmic universes than the traditional plein air variety.

For his debut show, Saladyga presents a series of minimal paintings done in a strict palette of black, gray, and red. He uses a mixture of latex house paint and modeling paste in order to achieve a thick, viscous surface. Many of the new works contain Tau crosses, cruciforms, alluding to political violence and the sado-masochistic ritual religious belief during the Age of Exploration. The medieval symbol of the Tau Cross appears in a large triptych that physically dominates the show. A dark green border frames the work, and two small squares rest below, windows to a deep abyss.

As the central theme, medieval religion applies to “The Hours,” as well, a series of 16 works on paper that Saladyga created to reference a popular Christian devotional book used by monks, who also famously illustrated the manuscripts. The series, made up of formulaic compositions of vertical stripes, suggest routine, ritual movements, and the passing of light. The notion of a highly governed and glorified system is at play.

Saladyga painted the works in Site Unseen in the early 1990ʼs, at a time when he wanted to move away from the gore of figuration and expressionism, but still respond to the political climate of the time: El Salvador, Nicaragua and Vietnam. These works represent a conscious effort to change style and content, but not meaning, with a new wave of creativity.

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