Alessandro Del Pero: The End of Abstraction
By NICOLLETTE RAMIREZ, June 2019
On the first invite I received to this show the title of the exhibition was The Death of Abstraction. Everyone, especially writers, knows the power of words. As one artist who is familiar with Del Pero’s work and knows the artist quite well said, “There’s a lot of death in the paintings.” I guess this is why on the second iteration of the press materials “Death” was substituted for “End”.
If you know the trajectory of Del Pero’s oeuvre you understand the relationship between this new body of work and what it is building on. Like a comedian who makes jokes and makes people laugh may have a history of sadness which they transcend through comedy, so too this body of work based in darkness brings the viewer into the light. It is a show about redemption and Life; about transcending darkness and Death. In works like Narcissus 2, 2018, you see the cycle of birth and death and perhaps the death of the ego. The burnt torso of the man hangs like Christ on a cross and all around him falls the ashes. From the ashes new life is formed. When the ego dies the soul is triumphant.
Flowers are often presented to celebrate a birth and to commemorate a person at death. Here they are presented at the Death of Abstraction. Flowers are usually colorful but here they are black, bereft of color, or sometimes only have a hint of color, like pink or blue, a shadow of life. In these paintings Del Pero has taken the art historical reference of the still life and brought it smack dab into the discourse of contemporary art. The flowers are the subject, on stage, lit up with what can only be called chiaro oscuro, another artistic convention originating from his Northern Italian origins and echoing through the annals of art history.
How Del Pero handles paint is masterly. From the smooth surfaces that reflect the spectrum of light in darkness, like in Floral Tribute VII (The Death of Abstraction), 2018, and the rough edges of abstract paintings in that painting, one sees the diverse range of the artist’s talent and skill.
Floral Tribute X (Death of Abstraction), 2018, combines the image of the crumbling painting on the wall in the background with the flowers in the foreground, driving home the point that there’s a funeral service going on somewhere in the market for these mediocre abstract works that have become a poor excuse for art. As a commentary on our current art world it doesn’t get much better than this: Death to all those “collectors” looking for “abstract paintings in grey, beige and taupe.”
Del Pero is also a master at portraiture. From people he knows well like artist Paolo Pelosini, to historical figures he’s painted in the past like Gil Scott Heron, the artist has the ability to capture the spirit of people. Pelosini’s portrait Tribute to Master Paolo Pelosini, 2019, is framed by a night landscape of clouds and moon on the right and stars on the left, an homage to Pelosini’s most recent Nocturnes series.This celestial addition marks a difference to the other portraits which have an unadorned background, and perhaps indicates the closer connection Del Pero has with this artist.
The Self Portrait on Flowers, 2018, brings back the imagery of the shadow man that is present in Del Pero’s work from a few years ago. Both as concrete object and metaphysical symbol, this shadow reminds us of our dark side and of the immaterial present in the material world.
Our world is going through massive change and the art world as a microcosm reflects these upheavals. Del Pero captures this time we live in with a breathtaking exhibition that places his work in the art historical books. WM
Nicollette Ramirez is an art dealer, writer, producer and events organizer, nurturing artists and promoting their work. Nicollette’s projects have often combined artists from diverse backgrounds working in different media in various locations. Nicollette named her company Beez And Honey.view all articles from this author