Gallery Writeup

A visit to the gallery to see the works of Marco Prisco left me with a page and a half of notes and a new vision of what gesture drawings can be. There were both spontaneous and deliberate forms, some of which portrayed freeness and others that emphasized attention to detail. The human figure drawings and Imagined Landscape paintings were consistent with other pieces in their collections. It became like a game to me to find the similarities or repeated forms in each drawing or painting. The abstract and realistic work Prisco created evoked emotion from the viewer as it simply hung on a wall.

Prisco’s human figure drawings were composed of conte on paper and were often untitled. Scribbled and drawn lines were present to show different textures and shadows such as in the hair of the figures and the creases in the blankets. The rough outlines were characteristic of gesture drawings. The medium used was often black, deep red-purple, or a rusty red and was cast on  orange-brown, gray, and off-white paper. Almost all of the figures’ faces were not drawn in. I wonder if this was a play on the human feeling of lonesomeness and solitude–the desperate feeling of wanting to disappear. Most of the positions that the figures were depicted in were vulnerable and raw. In my opinion, works that are created with emotion, awaken emotion and leave the viewer with no choice but to interact with the form on paper. They are the most interesting to observe.

The most thought-provoking of the gallery were the pieces of the Imagined Landscape series. They were bright, colorful and surreally abstracted. Due to their composition of water color on paper, the colors were not always controlled and I saw quite a few pencil lines that were not erased. The paintings had multiple dimensions and perspectives and many were separated into different squares illustrated with unique scenes.There were low clouds, but high flowers. Objects casted shadows that were not consistent with those around them or the light source itself. Cubes and geometric shapes made frequent appearances, as well as one palm-like tree and a triangular tent. Prisco showed movement through repetitive straight lines and played with the value of his watercolors by layering the same color to create different shades. Imagined Landscapes 1 and 5 were especially abstract and geometric. However, Imagined Landscape 16 was my favorite. It was a tribute to a house Prisco’s family owned in Maine and seemed more personal than the other paintings. It contained more realistic sketches divided into squares. It was as if Prisco was reliving a memory through each space he filled. A focal point of the piece was the black, white-spotted loon and was one of my favorite elements of the landscape.

Without knowledge of the man behind the art, an in-depth understanding of the work he did may be lost. Mario Prisco’s self-portrait, done in oil on canvas, depicted a man who honors exactness and attention to detail. His love of expressive content was obvious in the visible rough brush strokes of his self-portrait and the green and orange hues that showed the contour and highlight of his skin. Prisco’s dance between spontaneity and deliberate forms kept the viewer moving between different productions of his work. Form and relationships of objects or life in space is a serious consideration of Prisco when creating his art.

The fun and freeness of the Imagined Landscapes may not relate directly to the somberness of the human figure drawings in terms of expression, but Mario Prisco’s technique of creating shapes with lines that are not concrete is a language that all of his pieces in the gallery are fluent in. His expression of emotion through the content of his art is admirable. His thoughtfulness of his drawings and their relationship to space is unique and makes for a memorable observational experience.

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