All artists are charged with the fire to create and therefore having a “God Complex” is inherent in them. Joseph Grazi has definitely breathed that fire into his works for God Complex, which opened last April 9th with a bevy of artworks that brightly lit the interests of the smoldering art crowd.
The common tenet of ancient mythology is that the Gods wreck havoc on the lives of mortals for amusement. Every transgression has the punishment fated by those who roll the dice. Of all the tales about the Gods, the mythology of Prometheus comes to mind. He was the one who gifted fire to mankind by stealing it from Zeus. His punishment for that theft was to be chained eternally to a rock. It is said that this fire fueled the advancement of civilization.
Joseph Grazi took those embers from Prometheus and caused a wild fire of creativity that burned itself into everyone’s consciousness. His signature play on the symbolism of life and death intertwined provided the fuel to drive his show into the heights of art Valhalla. The fallen ideals of man-made limitations gave way to the God-like power to create his art without boundaries.
There was a Pentagram long held to be associated with sinister black magic but it was covered in the verdant green of four leaf clovers. The juxtaposition of both deathly misfortune and good luck created a clashing image that reverberated warmly. On the paintings were the very Mandala-like patterns with the human skull that made death an incarnate focal point yet seductive. The glass boxes featured his use of the taxidermy bats that are creatures of the night but they evoke lush movement, as they seem to flutter around the human skull. At once regal and grotesque, the push and pull dynamics seared deeply as testaments of death overcome by life. Some colorful butterflies were mixed in with the bats to illustrate this force. Grazi wants to challenge and trump our traditional ideas about these subjects.
The symbolism of such elements did not make it funereal but instead it was exuberant. Grazi has deftly crafted a great mixture and balance of mortality buttressed against eternal life. It is a direct link of the chasm between humanity and divinity. These things are almost obsessive human pre-occupations. We think about it every day and in the transom of our minds, the thought has crossed more than once. As an artist, Grazi makes the witty broad stroke that with art you can flip the middle finger to the Gods and seal your fate forever with your creation. It is the holy grail of artistic pursuit that your work of art outlasts your earthly existence. The illustration and structure that Grazi had made for this show extols that idiom of such omnipotent power hewn by the hands of the artist. This is the final laugh or ha-ha-ha in your face to the powers that be. The God Complex is not something to shy away from and be fearful that you’ll be chained to a rock for having that chutzpah. Grazi may mix both elements cleverly but the underlying message here is create like a God.
Like Prometheus, Grazi has harnessed the raging fire of artistic creativity and gifted it for all to see so that it’s geared towards the advancement of how the parameters and conventions of art could be subverted. There are no Art Gods throwing the dice to decide the fate of an artist. It is all in the hands and power of the mortal artist to ignite the flame. This fire consumes and continues to burn the old ways so that out of the ashes, the new guards can rise.
After the show, Grazi related a dream that he had where he was spewing fiery magma and burning the vicinity around him. Not to be an amateur Freud but the obvious interpretation of his dream could be that his current oeuvre will be the wild fire that ignites a blazing trail for art.
Joseph Grazi: God Complex / On View: April 9 – May 2, 2015
Gallery Hours: Tue/ Wed/ Fri/ Sat (11 am to 6 pm) Thu (11 am – 9 pm)
Joseph Gross Gallery. 548 West 28th Street, Suite #232. NYC, NY 10001
Art Review by: Oscar A. Laluyan
Photography by: Olya Turcihin