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Saturday, December 04, 2010

Saccio and Saladyga at Kehler Liddell

Kehler Liddell Gallery
873 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 389-9555
Joseph Saccio & Gerald Saladyga: Site Unseen
Through Dec. 5, 2010

The exhibition airing of Joseph Saccio and Gerald Saladyga at Kehler Liddell Gallery in Westville ends tomorrow. It is a fine show of new (Saccio) and old (Saladyga) work by two artists with shared interest in incorporating metaphysical themes into their art.

For me, the paintings of Gerald Saladyga came as the biggest surprise. Dating back to the early 1990's but not shown until now, they are geometric and austere. As with his present works—which I have written about several times in Connecticut Art Scene—they are painted with latex house paints and modeling paste.

Saladyga has told me the quiet understatement of these paintings was a personal reaction to his paintings of the 1980's. The 1980's paintings, figurative and expressionist in nature, offered visceral revulsion to the violence of American foreign policy at the time, particularly in Central America. Saladyga told me that he ended up recoiling from his own representations of violence; these works addressed his concerns in ways more symbolic and spiritual.

I've written about Joseph Saccio's work before also. Saccio employs organic and inorganic materials to plumb themes of death and rebirth. In several of the works here, Saccio engages with the book form. In some cases this is overt. With "Do Not Forget the Burning Books," a cyliner of ruffled pages with singed edges is wedged between segments of a tar-blackened telephone pole. The book form is an interesting choice for Saccio because his works invite reading and interpretation. They are freighted with metaphor, dreamlike.

Whether this was Saccio's intention or not, "Do Not Forget the Burning Books" invokes two different forms of communication: written (books) and oral/verbal (telephone pole). To riff on that some more, we see the written word trapped within the two segments of the telephone pole as if verbal, technologically facilitated communication is squeezing out the written literary form. Of course, there is another association here—that trees have a second life as the paper that makes up the pages of a book.

Three works in the show were created in memory of a friend of Saccio's who dies in the 1970's. "Elegy for Clint: Homage to Motherwell" and "Requiem for Clint: A Thousand Cuts" are wall-mounted sculptures that also allude to the book form.

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