Curated by JJ Manford & Steve Rivera
March 16— April 14
Opening Reception — Saturday, March 16, 6PM
For immediate release
Chiaroscuro (n.) (source: Merriam-Webster)
a : the arrangement or treatment of light and dark parts in a pictorial work of art
b : the interplay or contrast of dissimilar qualities (as of mood or character)
c (NOVELLA disambiguation): an exhibition strategy for contradicting the expectations of a multi-artist painting show, by placing individualistic works in a group context in order to highlight each work’s highly differentiated singularity.
“Chiaroscuro”, translated literally as ‘light/dark’, was first used in the Renaissance to describe drawings on colored paper using sharp gradations of light gouache and dark ink, which were inspired by Roman illuminated manuscripts painted on purple-dyed vellum. In the Mannerist and Baroque periods Chiaroscuro became a common painterly effect used to heighten the drama of the subject with strong contrasts of light and shadow, perhaps best exemplified in the paintings of Caravaggio and Rembrandt.
Although following in the painterly tradition of the term, Chiaroscuro has adopted its interpretation from the rather metaphorical second definition, referring to the contrast-induced dramatics achieved by grouping a collection of dissimilar paintings together in one lavender-colored room. In Chiaroscuro, the term has come to describe the tense energy between individual works, the result of each painting’s distinctive logic. Chiaroscuro thus co-opts the art-historical term for it’s own devices, while observing the hard-lined artistic statements and flare for dramatics so characteristic of its earliest practitioners.
Chiaroscuro brings together nine paintings, or proto-paintings, that evade easy classification, indicative of their makers’ unique, and idiosyncratic approaches. What results is a group show that circumnavigates the expectations placed on many group shows, by setting up the paradoxical circumstance of a ‘separate togetherness’. Rather than performing its typical function as a cohesive survey or visually coordinated collection of like-minded works, Chiarocuro attempts to celebrate the exceptional creative vision of nine individuals, seemingly unencumbered by their artistic influences, while reminding us that plurality has always been the condition of painting.
—JJ Manford & Steve Rivera