Rat-a-tat culture, tender portraits

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I know this show is on the verge of coming down, but I also wanted to get in something about Anthony Palumbo‘s work at Ashley Gallery (left, “Subway”).

Palumbo’s paintings are noir portraits of people (some not quite dressed) situated in the impersonal world of telephones, shiny escalators, video game arcades, parking lots, etc.

The subjects are not so much caught up in pouty teen angst and posturings as they are just a little sad, or sometimes a little impassive in an environment that’s all shiny reflections and rat-a-tat input. The trains rush by. The telephones offer a chance to reach out and touch someone, but no one’s using them. And there are so many phones, implying a People’s Army of phone-talkers who are desperate to communicate, but don’t really know how to get in touch (right, “Telephones”).
The work is more than just portraiture. It tells the story of lives in our disconnected culture, with its suffocating, supersize scale (left, “Odyssey”).

The lives depicted are Palumbo’s peer group, so the portraits add up to observations about a generation, the young people who grew up in this crazy world. In contrast to Rebecca Westcott, whose backgrounds are relatively perfunctory without much attention to space, Palumbo is painting milieu as well as people. If you don’t make it to this show (it closes today), keep an eye out for this guy.

While I was talking to Diane Ashley, she mentioned that she is showing at Art Miami and will have work up by Rachel Bliss and John David in Scope Art, New York, in March. Here’s a Rachel Bliss that she’s planning to take. Check out the painterliness as well as the intensity of the image (right).

I also wanted to add a whole-hearted agreement withRoberta’s comments about Phil Blank‘s work, which was still up at Ashley as well as a little further down at North Third, a local tappy (the work is also coming down today as I understand it; I’m glad I caught them before they came down) (left, “Never Miss You till Yer Gone: Water in the Well”).

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