Walking into a show called “Napoleon Complex” that I was bracing for tiny men in mitered hats and tall boots kicking me in the shin but instead it was a showcase of small works from the gallery artists at J. Cacciola Gallery. This short (no pun intended) run and end of the year show was staged after the gallery recovered from its damages incurred by the wrath of Hurricane Sandy.
On December 20th, I arrived at the gallery on West 23rd to be charmed by the diminutive sized works that packed a gigantic wallop visually. Talking to the Assistant Director of the gallery, Jenny Montgomery, that this end of the year show was something special for all their participating artists to create works on a smaller scale. Usually a large canvas provides the luxury for the artist to be spontaneous and experimental to even allow for happy accidents. However, when faced with a much smaller plane to play with, artists are forced to be more disciplined, controlled, and innovative. Therein lies the great moments where small work can speak large volumes.
Lotus Rising No.10 by Janet Filameno was a bright oceanic blue painting with dynamic movement contained within its tiny surface. The artist pointed out crisply detailed edges of flowing paint that created a biomorphic form/texture that is difficult to employ in smaller canvases. It may have been a tiny field of blue but its visual reverberations were as deep as the mysterious and volatile forced ocean. Untitled by Bruce Samuelson seduces with its more earthy tones and ghostly twisted forms. In executing a softer value that this stands as a testament to the sheer skill and confidence of the artist. Doing a quieted down tone in a smaller scale but managing to be visually strong is no small feat. Besides the abstract genre there were also figurative pieces such as Caitlin Hurd with her little girl reminiscent of a petite Edgar Degas ballerina but her limp doll stance is both poetically sublime yet disturbingly alluring. One can’t help but be engaged in the amazing realization that any artist can produce work on such a limited area.
The selected artists from the gallery produced works not in their usual magnanimous scale but that didn’t hinder them from creating grand sweeping statements. I view it as a parallel to what this gallery endured from the devastating storm. It prevailed against the Goliath force of destruction and introduced small gems of artistic might that stands defiantly to signify that Art is mightier than any natural disaster. Therefore, each work in this show deserves to puff out its petite chest and rule the gallery threshold like the tiny general, Napoleon.
Napoleon Complex – Gallery Artists in an exhibition of small works
On View: December 18 – 29, 2012
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday (11am – 6 pm)
J. Cacciola Gallery. 537 West 23rd Street. NYC, NY 10011
art review and photos by: Oscar A. Laluyan
art images from J. Cacciola Gallery courtesy of the artists