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Monday, February 11, 2008

It's the surreal thing

New Haven Free Public Library Art Gallery
133 Elm St., New Haven
Voyages: Artworks by Luigi Cavandoli
Feb. 2—Mar. 7, 2008

Luigi Cavandoli
's acrylic paintings owe a strong debt to the Surrealism of Rene Magritte and Giorgio De Chirico. In fact, a couple of the works are direct homages, one titled "A Voyage with Magritte" and another "A Voyage with De Chirico." But there "swipes" (as the old 1940's comic book artists put it) from the two Surrealist masters noticeable in other paintings.

Cavandoli is partial to recurring image tropes—shadowy figures with their backs to the viewer, a mysterious building with a couple of vertical slits for windows and a cylindrical tower and egg forms that are cracked and oozing blood. His palette betrays a strong affection for blues and yellows.

His technique is just strong enough to make his work effective. But no more than that. He doesn't have the ability, which the Surrealist masters did have, of convincing the viewer (at least not this viewer).

The strongest two paintings are hung next to each other, "A Voyage Around Myself" and "Untitled." The former features the cracked bleeding egg prominently with two shadowy figures in the foreground. Within the background is contained a plethora of recapitulations of Cavandoli's other works. The accumulation of absurdity starts to approach a lively critical mass. There is a similar sense, with less clutter and more compositional integration, in "Untitled," including a swipe of Magritte's sky-filled dove silhouette. "Untitled" features a painting within the painting, the main imagery surrounded by a faux rough-hewn knotty wooden wall.


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