October 29, 2014
Salvatore Emblema’s Textile Color Fields Combine Burlap, Stitching, and Oil Paint
Artsy.net, 10/29/2014
Stephen Dillon


Salvatore Emblema’s Textile Color Fields Combine Burlap, Stitching, and Oil Paint
Artsy.net, 10/29/2014
Stephen Dillon

The work of Salvatore Emblema, recently on view at Santa Fe’s David Richard Gallery, defies conventions, connecting abstract oil painting to textile-and-fiber arts and Arte Povera. Using dethreaded burlap canvases, painted with pigmented ashes and soil, Emblema created works that suspend color between the viewer and the wall on a translucent scrim. Emblema writes of his preoccupation, “Could ‘transparence’ be a new word for painting? I think so. And if it is true, then we should work hard, because one day we will conceive painting without body, made up only of lights and emotions. Without any canvases supporting them, without any lies justifying their existence.” In his work, he achieved what other artists of his generation, particularly Jules Olitski, had aimed for: the ability to transcend painting and simply float color in a dazzling spectacle before viewers.

In Untitled 0307 (1976), the thin grid of burlap fibers supports a color field of Mars red, cascading from the painting’s top and edged with white toward the middle. Emblema’s variations on the density of the fabric’s weave creates further colors—pale beige, tan, sandy, and nearly white—just as different openings allow the white of the wall behind the artwork to be more or less visible. The dethreaded canvas’ cruciform patterning is counterbalanced by the painterly application of color, reminiscent of Clyfford Still and Mark Rothko, whom Emblema met on a visit to New York in the 1950s.

In other works, such as Untitled 1926 and Untitled 2172 (both 2005), Emblema uses collage to create further layers. Stitching whole burlap strips painted with tinted soil onto dethreaded and stained burlap, the artist extends his manipulation of the surface as a form of mark-making, both by reductive and additive measures. In the latter painting, a line of pink stitches runs horizontally across the middle of the canvas, which is also dyed pink. In the center of the painting run three horizontal strips of fabric, each with a stripe of dry-brushed paint in blue or pink. The landscape-like abstraction bridges traditional compositional techniques and contemporary deconstructions of the painted surface by way of Abstract Expressionist imagery. Having moved to the United States in the mid-20th century, his work connects the old world and the new, and over the years has created space for artists, such as emerging talents Ethan Cook and Sheila Pepe, to be explored.

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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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