The Italian artist Pier Paolo Calzolari is a breezy alchemist of colour, as evidenced in Portray as a Butterfly, his fourth present at Marianne Boesky Gallery. If portray is a butterfly, it should exert a fragile sensorial strain with its formal “flutter.” Such is the impact of some 30 work by Calzolari, most of them made up to now 5 years, with three relationship again to the Nineteen Seventies and ’80s. Calzolari often layers the brand new works with salt crystals. He then applies pastels, gouache, or tempera to the canvas; the impact is that the pigments are absorbed erratically, producing dense blotches, but in addition areas the place colour dilutes and sinks, or washes out totally. The ensuing tensions — between permanence and evanescence, expressed in, for instance, tempera’s opaque solidity versus the salt’s flickery luster — lie on the core Calzolari’s alchemy.
Born in Bologna in 1943, Calzolari is among the few residing artists related to Italy’s arte povera, a motion that sprung up within the Sixties to oppose a minimalist aesthetic coopted by capitalist, consumerist society. Along with the arte povera artists’ choice for natural and homespun supplies, their artworks usually flirt with figuration, and particularly with the suggestion of the human type in Calzolari’s present work. Take into account the works within the gallery’s intimate again room: disarmingly prosaic footprints waltz throughout a number of small canvases hung salon type. Rendered in chartreuse, the shoe bewitches — a Cinderella with rash goals of fluid identities. (An identical romantic journey emanates from “Untitled,” 2019, wherein a gauzy gown hovers atop a summery abstraction.) Calzolari’s grayish-brown model of the shoe, nevertheless, is nearer to Van Gogh’s somber take: a peasant’s famously worn and weary pair, whose lyricism is scrappy and earthbound.
Calzolari’s magic can be cosmic, as in a small portray in the identical gallery, wherein a tailed circle tumbles within the decrease left like a frightened comet. In all these items, natural and metaphysical forces are one: vapors are rudimentary atmospheric fuel particles, however additionally they signify marvel and bliss. But, if there’s greater than a little bit of razzle dazzle and total shimmy right here, it’s not with out resistance — the surfaces are sometimes pumice-like, taking their cue from the multifarious properties of salt, each dissoluble and obdurately rock onerous.
It’s almost unattainable to view Calzolari’s work with out additionally recalling the masterly vigor of Italian Renaissance artists. The artist gestures towards this explicitly in “Venetian Portray” (2019), wherein the luxurious ultramarine so beloved by Titian and his posse is a hovering, dense nebula, or perhaps a Romanesque-arch-like portal to hidden mysteries — whereas the remainder of the composition blanches beneath canary streaks like a mirage glimpsed throughout the piazza by means of rain-streaked home windows. Elsewhere Calzolari conjures up an much more elusive chemistry, as in most work whose titles or types check with haikus: an evocation of nature so grounded within the elemental that for a second solely the salt appears to exist. It breathes into the canvas pores, excreting its airtight residue, like a genie conjured from an alchemist’s flask.
Pier Paolo Calzolari: Portray as a Butterfly continues at Marianna Boesky Gallery (507 and 509 West twenty fourth Avenue, Chelsea, Manhattan) by means of April 23. The exhibition was organized by the gallery.