Sunday, October 22, 2006

Andrew Masullo at Paule Anglim (SF)

Last August, Galerie Paule Anglim presented an exhibit of paintings by mid-career artist Andrew Masullo, who currently lives in San Francisco (and previously in New York). Working in oil on canvas, Masullo seems to aim for pleasure rather than self-importance. He uses small formats. In this show, sizes were 8x10" at the low end and 14x18", 10x20", and 16x20" for some of the best pieces. The colors are cheery. In a 2003 review in Art in America, Michael Duncan was spot-on in describing them as “associated with hard candy or Fisher-Price toys.” The shapes look like goofy versions of modern graphical design.

In today's leading art venues, a good deal of work on view is conceptual, political, ironic, referential, transcendental—in other words, a bit of a workout. Sometimes it wants to grab you by the collar with its keen message, or dazzle you with size or superhuman technique. Masullo is more intimate and approachable. His paintings refresh the taste buds between courses of heavier art, like sorbet.

The strength of these paintings is precisely their focus on the pleasures of color, composition, and abstract forms. That is all they need. In some of the work, an interesting use of underpainting reinforces the viewer’s awareness that the work is not na├»ve. In fact, this work is most fully appreciated in a multi-generational context among artists such as Paul Feeley, Myron Stout, Thomas Nozkowski, Chris Martin, and Chuck Webster.

Examples of work in the August show are shown above and below. The first three images are taken from the gallery website. The final shot, taken by me, shows the artist working without bright colors.





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