I like these paintings when I walk into the gallery, but I observe my own condescenscion: “Oh. Modestly scaled abstract paintings in off tones. Nice. I get these - a peaceful, easy feeling.”
(It’s remarkable how complacent and shallow my responses are. I’m afraid this incipient complacency is a hazard of holding my senses to a high standard… I get so certain of my superiority and of my discerning eye. [Lord, lord, lord. Did he actually write this? And the rest - about the station wagon and the beer? Crazy. (ed.)]
After looking at the paintings, I find the scent and try it – the dry down promises to be ‘pink grapefruit and sea breezes’ and neither of these is bad. That for me it seems ‘warm strawberry soda’ is less fortunate. Back I go, through the show, holding my absorbent card, waving it in the air to broadcast Bruno Fazzolari’s perfume. I concentrate on looking and I notice new things in the paintings this second or third time around - while at the back of my mind there develops (and I regret this) a dream-like Inland Empire narrative of a day at the beach, with a station wagon full of kids, with a case of strawberry soda warm from the sun, and with two parents, each of whom is flirting openly with an age-innappropriate life guard and beach bunny. Much shrill fun is had. A circus-like atmosphere pervades: kids shriek, sneaking teenagers sneak and equally sneaky parents cheat. Soda, weed and beer are consumed – each group has their intoxicant and the sunny fresh air amplifies it all, too much. Continuing, I envision the hot afternoon drive home: I see queasy kids, sunburned and sand worn in the way-back, I imagine mom and dad up front, angry and ashamed, a residual beer buzz holding them in place, while one pair of hands grips the wheel. There is a residue of desire that draws them, in their minds, back to the beach, as with sidelong glances they each calculate… but no, that is another story.
Let it be known that the only part of the above story that appeared in Fazzolari’s paintings was a sense of the beach, with its negatively ionized air and sun blindedness. Having said this, only one of the paintings used the sunblind effect literally, and this fine painting was terrifying and wonderful and beautiful. It made subtle use of white-white and weird, pale, soft blue-green together as a background for vibrant chartreuse splotches. Two shades of orange did not quite relate, and nor did they quite border the canvas.
My notion of sun blindness without the cause (for the work here was done entirely with paint, and while I recognise that light carries vision, this is not the light I mean) became a way for me into the paintings. (I’m thinking for a minute… hang on) In these moments of painted obfuscation – of sunblindedness – the artist suggests something to me, a situation or a structure, and he then takes it away, by redaction and by incompletion. The suggestion, however, having been placed in my mind, remains. Hmm. Does it stay with me because my own brain put it there, independent of my senses? I don’t know. It’s pretty cool though.
I make connections to other work and then I discard these as unnecessary. Raoul de Keyser’s shapes come to mind, as does the manner of provisional painting that is so much in vogue this season. (Can we be entering already a Mannerist phase of Provisional Painting?) R. de Keyser, Thomas Nozkowski and Steve Roden always come to my mind when an artist makes successfully weird abstractions, but this really only means that the work is weird and good – not that there is any inherent connection.
I come back to the scent, because I have to, because the artist put it there and I recognize his seriousness. Perfume is an abstract art, perhaps the first one and certainly almost as old a one as music. Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez state this in their text, Perfume, and their moral authority in the world of chemistry and scent as much as makes it fact. This lays the groundwork for me to accept Fazzolari’s scent as an expansion on the conversation of his paintings. Despite my rambling story above (of which I am increasingly ashamed yet also cravenly proud) the perfume succeeded in placing me near to salt water. Do you remember how on trips to the shore you would always not remember everything? How even with what you did bring along, because of the shifting surface of the sand, and also the wetness of everything and the grit that invades all, because of all this you must make do with what you have at hand? Gods. You brought a thermos of lemonade, or, when older, a nice white wine with crusty bread and cheese – it all was meant to be so romantic and perfect, but… the beach is the beach.
But then the air takes over, the colors are bleached a bit, once bright towels now shimmer as in a haze, hard surfaces are depressed into the sand and below the horizon. Someone smiles at you, you start and then smile back. The magic worked again, perfection is stupid and for the city and about work. This moment is about experience. So are Bruno Fazzolari’s paintings, and his perfume.
Geoff Tuck, dreaming now of sandy gazes.
“It’s as though meaning were a thing or a place from which art originates rather than the ongoing process that happens to art over time.” Vincent Fecteau, inverviewed by Bruno Fazzolari in Art in America, December 2011.
I have to insist that you look at Fazzolari’s 2010 project, Mirror 5, for which he presented a series of four paintings that, together with a scent, “…invoke(s) the same non-representational space from 5 perspectives.” So cool. http://www.brunofazzolari.com/index.php?/current/mirror-5/
“Art is interesting to me when it presents more problems than it resolves.” Bruno Fazzolari from ‘Statement’ page on his website.
Quoting a long ago pop song by Spandau Ballet:
Give me no answers
That’s all they ever give me
Oh look at the strange boy
He finds it hard existing
To cut a long story short
I lost my mind