The Sunday Painter
January 09 — March 04, 2016
Saturday January 9, 2015
Glldar Gallery is pleased to welcome New York-based artist Joey Cocciardi to the gallery for his first solo exhibition The Sunday Painter. The exhibition features a series of performative landscape paintings created as the artist traversed the wildernesses of Colorado in the summer of 2015.
Appropriating the romantic practice of plein air landscape painting, this latest body of work by Cocciardi continues his exploration of the male artist’s role in society as a heroic figure exploring wildernesses both physically and psychologically. Through exaggerated scale and material contrast he amplifies the method of painting outdoors from direct observation popularized by 19th century Impressionists and American Hudson River School painters. In its new incarnation, this traditional painting process emerges as an extreme contemporary adventure at once epic and absurd.
The journey begins with the artist coating a large canvas with a smooth gradient of DayGlo acrylic. This stretched fluorescent backdrop is then affixed to a custom built wood crate, which the artist straps to his body as he treks to remote vistas. Often at the point of exhaustion, the artist sets up his easel and supplies. Black and white pigment is applied in quick gestural strokes directly on top of the luminescent background, forming a highly subjective image of the landscape. The resulting loose, yet alluring representations of sublime nature end up adorned with the remnants of the physical experience of painting outside —debris and insects attracted to the artwork’s surface remain as permanent residents of the grand scene.
The artworks further highlight the entwined relationship between notions of the American “wilderness” and “modernity”. In each painting, a masked out rectilinear space of the Day-Glo underpainting forms a hard-edged reflecting pool within the foreground of the composition. These hyper-color fields pierce through the gushy pictures as modernist architectural features embedded directly within the otherwise untamed landscape. In this way, Cocciardi draws attention to problematic ideals of contemporary wilderness and frontier space as fictions derived from a highly mechanized society dating back to the Industrial Revolution and hurtling forward through the current digital age. Its productive inhabitants desiring temporary retreat from stressful urban and suburban centers create colonized wilderness areas. The routine is simple – head to the mountain chalet for the weekend and return rejuvenated to the workweek.
Crating and straps needed to transport each piece in the wild, which are additionally displayed with each painting, draw attention back to the artist’s arduous plight to capture the sublime. Altered documentation of the process on display in a limited publication created by Cocciardi provides additional ‘evidence’ of the artist’s grand exploits. The persona arises of, “The Sunday painter, casting leisure aside for a genuine experience.”