Whitehot Magazine

In It For The Long Haul at Lichtundfire

James Austin Murray, Cosmic Dancer, 2023, oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches. All images courtesy of artists and curcioprojects.

By MYLES FUCCI February 1, 2024

Lictundfire recently presented “In It For The Long Haul”, an exhibition featuring a multitude of different artists curated by the renowned Robert Curcio of curcioprojects. I initially was at a cafe with a friend after a long day of seeing different galleries in the Lower East Side, when after his departure, I decided to step into the gallery to close out the day.

I was promptly met by Robert and immediately asked a question about a James Murray piece with the title, Cosmic Dancer because of its similarity to a Pierre Soulages piece I saw just a few weeks prior. Robert explained that Murray exclusively works with black ivory paint as a tool to create different universes through various brush sizes and strokes. The distinct shine of the black paint across the canvas immerses the audience into a world outside of their own, where everything is the same, yet the movement of different brushstrokes can tell their own unique stories.

Chambliss Giobbi, Tan Für Mich Salome, #3 (Self-Portrait), 2008, collage and beeswax on aluminum panel, 36 x 36 inches

We then moved to other pieces that I felt particularly drawn to, as Robert welcomed me to ask any questions about the pieces that piqued my interest. As we were walking through the gallery, I immediately became entranced by a piece (arguably my favorite) that happened to be tucked away in the back of the gallery behind Robert’s desk. It was TAN FUR MICH SALOME by Chambliss Giobbi. The eerie and almost scarily collaged image, sealed with beeswax, is a series of self-portraits of the artist dressed up as King Herod from the biblical story, Salome, retold by Oscar Wilde in the form of a play. The compiled image references a particular scene in the play where Salome is asked to dance for King Herod (known more specifically as The Dance of the Seven Veils) to fulfill any wish she desires. Upon viewing the piece, I felt a very crude, violent, and virulent energy surrounding it, almost as if I was witnessing the internal power struggle King Herod was fighting within himself. The self-portrait(s) captures the perfect energy of King Herod, who kept Salome captured in his palace and eventually killed Salome because he disagreed with one of her wishes.

The other piece that stood out to me was a bright-red piece titled Faux Material by Augustus Goertz. This piece stood out to me primarily due to its unique textural quality and composition. The canvas was painted in a faded reddish-pink tone with creases; as if the canvas was folded and then stretched back out. Robert mentioned to me how the piece uses elements of the uncertainty principle, which suggests the creation of a tactile reality while simultaneously creating something illusory. This experience occurs when analyzing the pieces' funky textures in multiple areas of the canvas. The sides of the canvas have a thick impasto representing the more palpable reality of the piece. At the same time, the bright red middle portion has a more illusory effect due to the meticulously painted creases.

Augustus Goertz, Faux Materials, 2023, water-based acrylic paint, acrylic lacquer, acrylic medium, oil and mixed media, 48 x 48 inches.

I felt drawn to other artists in the exhibition like, LeRone Wilson, Edward M. Giordano Jr., and Neil Jenney, who all aided in expressing the rawness and unique individuality of the exhibition. LeRone Wilson’s piece Realgar RU the SPDT took a more minimalistic approach, more specifically, through conscientious use of color, three-dimensional textured brush strokes, and hypnotic spiral formations. It inspires the observer to imagine a world that is beyond temporality and leaves a lasting imprint on the viewer. Edward M Giordano Jr.’s Ecce Homo uses
the existing story of Jesus’ torture by Pontius Pilate by creating a visually striking yet raw eight-foot wooden sculpture. Ecce Homo starkly contrasts the usual portrayal of Jesus, in a religious setting with the use of bright colors, dramatic facial expressions, and large descriptors.

Giordano’s raw and simplistic portrayal of Jesus as an anonymous figure on a high wooden pedestal indicates his level of importance and power within his suffering, pointing to the idea that our suffering as humans tends to be elevated and shown to the world. In addition to Giordano's decision to extract the violent details of this infamous story, he strategically places the sufferer above the audience to invoke a feeling of isolation and uncertainty. The viewer imagines they could be placed on the same pedestal, experiencing their suffering for the world to see.

I initially looked past Neil Jenney’s North American Summer - until I asked Robert what his favorite piece in the exhibit was? Robert explained to me that he had been following Jenney’s work for almost the entire span of his career as a curator. In its presentation, the work was simple yet complex, with a bold black frame surrounding the canvas. The frame acts as a sculpture on its own while moving the viewer to intensely focus on the central component of the piece. The primary focus is the shifting foliage present during the summertime littered with shadows, creating a distinct line or border present in the grass. This made me heavily question the meaning of this piece. Did the line represent the beginning of summer's conclusion? Or is it a simple visual depicting the changing of sunlight in the summer throughout the day? After parsing through various answers, I concluded it represented the quickness with which seasons pass and how much we relish summer so deeply.

During the summer, we are so focused on the present season, yet we always feel or see an ending to this notoriously joyous season. The dark green grass contrasted with the lighter green grass is indicative of the impending “dark” feeling felt when seasons shift. Jenney offers a present depiction of the season yet as colors, weather, and moods change, we know that an impending change is coming.

Neil Jenney, North American Summer, 2020, oil on canvas in artist-made frame, 37.5 x 34 x 3 in.

After overanalyzing the aforementioned pieces, amongst others, I was forced to contemplate my relation to time and what it meant within the exhibition. The press release emphasized that these artists are not famous; they are personal, not in the artist's relation to Robert but in their ability to pass the test of time. After the pandemic, I have experienced countless pieces that tend to not pass the “test” of time. It is gleamingly obvious that many of these pieces are designed to be consumed as quickly as they are produced. As people become more immersed in their digital worlds and personalized algorithms, the senses are numbed by a shortening attention span. Finding art that evokes the senses is now innovative. The work must be able to capture and intrigue the viewer beyond a few moments.

Robert’s incorporation of a raw and semi-unsystematic salon-style presentation of the pieces allowed the senses to be inundated, motivating the audience to nearly hyper-fixate on any piece their eye desired. Why is this important to those who view and consume art? It breaks down the traditional standard of how we view and present art while reinventing it as something raw and sensory-heavy. The universal standard presentation of art is an invariable environment of clean white walls and intense studio lighting. It is easy to forget that the environment of art itself can challenge our senses and force us to reimagine the mediums in which art is displayed. "In It For The Long Haul" is a testament to the decades of Robert's exceptional curation and the artists' dedication and craft in each piece. Overall, an exhibition should be a testament to curators and galleries breaking these systematic, mundane practices and create experiences that deeply capture and inspire viewers. WM


Myles Fucci

Myles Fucci is currently attending NYU's Visual Art Administration Program and posts regularly about art & art-related events on his page @leauxreview on IG & Substack

view all articles from this author