Joseph Marioni  Paintings

It is impossible to represent adequately here the subtlety and beauty of Marioni's color. The paintings must be seen; the room must be experienced. These are finely-tuned, aesthetically complete objects in which color, form and surface texture work together to create an almost oriental, deeply meditative form of balanced quiet. The colors shift with changing light, and the glossy surface reflects an emphemeral sheen that at times includes the viewer's own silhouette. Each painting bears the title of its color: Blue Painting, Green Painting, Orange Painting... These works are "minimal" only in the sense that their subject is color. They lack for nothing though they offer no overt literary, political or poetic content. Their poetry is in perception and the natural satisfaction that vision unmitigated sometimes provides.

Michael Fried writing in ArtForum Sept.98 on Marioni's process:
"On a stretched canvas of modest dimensions (23 x 19 in; all his paintings are vertical in format), Marioni, using a large roller, laid down four separate waves of acrylic paint: an indathrone ground, blue-black; a layer of ultramarine, a reddish blue, thin, completely transparent, virtually substanceless; a layer of thalo blue, a green-blue, relatively thick; and finally an extremely thin layer of cobalt blue, an opaque color but at that degree of dilution rendered translucent, almost but not quite a glaze. Throughout the process the canvas was upright so that the liquid pigment, once applied, flowed toward the bottom of the picture; indeed the colored field reveals itself, when we look closely, as vertically striated, as though the sheer density - probably not the right word - of the paint layers led to a kind of internal curtaining. (When we look even more closely, the horizontal weave of the stretched linen is also in evidence.)

"In all his works of the past two decades we find that same downward flow, not only within the painted fields but also at their limits, toward the edges of the canvas, particularly the bottom and the sides, where drips are allowed to form, lower layers are permitted to show through, and an impersonal but exquisite touch makes itself felt (the effect is not unlike that in certain Chinese and Japanese ceramics). Another feature of his paintings is that the rectangular canvases are ever so slightly narrowed toward the bottom, to match the tendency of the downward-flowing paint to draw in from the sides; in the same spirit, the bottoms of the stretchers are rounded so as to avoid a build-up of paint along the lower edge of the canvas. ...no illustration can begin to capture the absolute specificity, which in this case also means the transfixing intensity of the ultimate hue, or the tensile integrity of the paint surface, or the sheer rightness of the color in relation to the size and shape of the support, or the suggestion of depth within or behind the paint surface, an effect that is becoming increasingly important in his art."

Joseph Marioni is an American painter now in his midfifties. For thirty years, he has been making paintings about color...

Oct 1-thru Dec '98 at Peter Blum 99 Wooster St.

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