Cheim & Read is pleased to present Marco Pariani: Trees and Traditions, an exhibition of new paintings and drawings by the Brooklyn-based, Italian-born artist. The show will open on September 15, 2022, at the gallery’s Chelsea location, 547 West 25th Street in Manhattan, and run through November 12. This is the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery.
The “trees and traditions” cited in the exhibition’s title are Christmas trees and the decorating, gift-giving, and family gatherings traditionally associated with the holiday. Casting an ironic eye on the stress, materialism, and forced good cheer endemic to the season, Pariani focuses on the inflatable decorations that bloom across suburban lawns and town squares as the holiday approaches.
However, the artist never directly quotes the appearance of these oversized ornaments, whose images he has downloaded from the internet. His canvases — teeming with sprayed dots and lines, embossed textures, oil stick slashes, and brushy, agitated paint strokes — occupy a fluctuating, ambiguous space between figuration and abstraction. Pariani might take a color from one screenshot and a shape from another, gleaning ideas from as many as a dozen sources at a time. His compositions reflect both the instability and the simultaneity of the internet, where images crowding the screen flit in and out of sight with the click of a mouse.
The new paintings are enriched by intaglio patterns along the borders of the canvas to suggest an ornamental frame enclosing, though not quite harnessing, the wildness of the painted image. Pariani spends up to a week preparing the canvas ground — multiple coats of gesso tinted various colors — but then completes the painting in a single improvised, performative session that can last a few hours or the entire day. He never revises the image after he finishes it, allowing it to remain an ever-fresh container of the spontaneous thoughts, emotions, conflicts, and solutions that went into its making.
With these works, Pariani, a consummate colorist, is exploring the range and properties of pigment with increased intensity. His grounds, which have been muted or neutral in the past, now also include bold fields of color — blazing yellow, red, and orange, icy cobalt and midnight blue, and raw, bottomless black. Pariani moved to Brooklyn from his native Italy in 2019 to be closer to the contemporary American artists he admires, and his calligraphic lines and expressive strokes mine the history of American modernism as much as his compositions mine the imagistic glut of the internet. In his hands we find the lyricism of Color Field painting spattered with graffiti, the high seriousness of Abstract Expressionism undermined by loopy, casual Pop. And yet, however riotous the surface, a closer look reveals a sophisticated, intuitive formal unity channeled through a recurring mix of curves, ovals, triangles, and dots: a set of motifs that draw upon the satirical content of the series but exist solely as paint on canvas.
Marco Pariani was born in Busto Arsizio, Italy, in 1986 and studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan (2005-2010). His most recent solo exhibitions have been held at Skarstedt, London (2022); Cheim & Read, New York (2021); V1 Gallery, Copenhagen (2021); and The Journal Gallery, New York (2021). His work has also been included in group exhibitions in New York, Tokyo, Geneva, Copenhagen, and Milan. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.