April 30, 2014
Paul Pascarella: New Moon West
THE Magazine, May 2014
Lauren Tresp


Paul Pascarella: New Moon West
THE Magazine, May 2014
Lauren Tresp

In Northern New Mexico, the natural worldis unavoidably dramatic — dramatic sunsets, dramatic rainfalls, dramatic landscapes. In his recent solo exhibition, New Moon West, Paul Pascarella’s abstract paintings capture the energy of these natural phenomena as they unfold: raw, organic, and powerful. Pascarella has had a longtime interest in nature, and particularly the pre-industrial world, of which there are some nostalgic remnants left in the American West. Originally from New York, the artist relocated from Los Angeles to Taos in the 1980s, and has been a fulltime artist ever since.

The exhibition is dominated by several largescale triptychs painted in a variety of media including pigments, pastels, and collaged elements. The largescale paintings are accompanied by series of smaller single-panel paintings. While a consistent aesthetic pervades the exhibition, the small and large panels fulfill two distinct roles: the small panels are more condensed in composition and energetically frenetic. They read as singular moments of observation or studies of unique, nuanced events.

Each of these sixteen-by-twelve-inch panels feels almost entirely consumed with pigment. Vigorous brush strokes and drizzles of color convey palpable spontaneity. In the Me to We #1-3 series (2014), flashes of color—whether in paint or collaged printed papers— interact within a matrix of black, white, and muddled grays, injecting life into a neutral, if not static, backdrop. Collaged images of anonymous faces are obscured in the melee. These images seem to hearken to portraiture, though only tangentially.

Color plays a more dominant role in panels such as Spring into Summer (2014) and Beach (2012), in which broad brush strokes in a vibrant palette including coral pinks and buttery yellows edge out the ervasive black pigment. Swaths of color, accentuated by thin drizzles of black and red, feel automatic and intuitive as the panels effloresce with the spirit of changing seasons. Other works incorporate collaged elements such as graphic, patterned papers. In an untitled work (2014), floral prints peek out from the background creating a curious juxtaposition between printed and painted patterning. Though the paintings are abstractions, patterns emerge from the would-be chaos, perhaps akin to the seemingly random nature of natural phenomena that ultimately emerge into observable rhythm and pulse. While the small-scale paintings play host to intense explorations of dramas and feel automatic in their execution, the large-scale panels convey the grace and grandeur of an unfolding ballet, ordered and thoughtful. In the large triptychs, composition is loose and spacious, and condensed gestural activity is balanced with planes of stillness and quiet space. These pieces take Pascarella two to three months to complete; he works on panel to support the continuous application of media as he creates visual crescendos.

In New Year New Moon (2011), gestural strokes result in vibrational patterns. As movements emerge, figuration emerges as well. Elegant S-curves are animated like figures—perhaps birds, fish, costumed dancers?— that float through the panels. The use of the triptych in the large-scale paintings has the compositional effect of dividing the fluid motion of pigment into a quasinarrative flow. The vertical breaks formally disrupt the dancing lines and impose a sense of order and containment. On each panel, the dancing figures morph and turn, evolving from epicenters of paint to ethereal beings. In Dance (2013), singular paint strokes suggest wings or whirling, sleeved arms, and lead the eye from limb to tumultuous, painterly bodies. The serpentine figures are like the elusive flying phoenix, twisting through space yet just out of the realm of observable reality. The viewer may spend time tracing lines of color, discerning the drama of life taking flight, yet never seeing more than abstractions in paint. Though more calculated than Pascarella’s smaller panels, these large paintings are immersive experiences of the artist’s intuitive vision of the natural world around him. His passion for the pulse and patterning of the natural world is palpable. Capturing the so often overlooked minute spectacles of the natural world is a feat akin to preservation, inviting viewers to observe, respect, and hold dear the rapidly changing landscape around us.

—Lauren Tresp

Download:   Paul Pascarella: New Moon West
THE Magazine, May 2014
Lauren Tresp

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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