• The Restoration of the Ordinary at Lyons Wier Gallery

    Date posted: January 25, 2013 Author: jolanta

     

    In one of her paintings, Junkyard Sun, we see a toy Michael Jackson, and above him, a toy figure of pro wrestler Junkyard Dog.  Both of them are the artist’s childhood heroes.  A squirrel, a notion of conservation, is placed near the wrestler.  A big fly, a tiny zebra, a pair of shinny pumps, and rats add to the imaginary and surreal atmosphere. The artist also creates the effect of ambiguous time and space by disconnecting the objects from the original context and presenting their sizes differing from those of the real figures. Junkyard holds a bright yellow bow as a symbol of the Sun in one hand and a big caterpillar in the other. The size of bow and the caterpillar is bigger relative to the size of the wrestler.

    By Soojung Hyun

    Melodie Provenzano’s art could be categorized as still life painting. There are many ordinary, diverse objects like glassware, plastic toy animals, ceramic figurines, bows, and little glass stars. All of the objects in her paintings are depicted with obvious technical proficiency and are well arranged compositionally. Her work also combines conceptual ideas and well-defined representations.  From the point of view of an art historian, Melodie’s significantly realistic depictions remind one of the 17th century Dutch still life paintings or Salvador Dali’s Surrealistic works. On the other hand, the ordinary objects like woman’s pumps, a toy of Michael Jackson, jewelry, furniture, etc., in her paintings are reminiscent of Pop Art as mentioned in “ The Transfiguration of the Commonplace (1981) ” by Arthur Danto. Beyond technical proficiency, Provenzano’s work liberates viewer’s imagination through many layers.

    Melodie Provenzano, Junkyard Sun, 2012. Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 in. Courtesy of Lyons Wier Gallery.

    After finishing her formal education Provenzano became interested in realistic representation. As she expresses it herself, her style has progressed from sketching everyday objects to painting what she saw around her. With still life painting being a very traditional genre, she continues to develop her skills of observation.  And now she has investigated and explored this style for over 15 years. Her recent show at Lyons Wier Gallery in Chelsea titled  “Rock Center”, expands the paradigm of still life painting.  The show presents the idea of how significant the world made of little and not so important ordinary objects can be.

    While Hyper-Realist paintings rely on photographs, Provenzano’s representations are different from mechanically capturing images that have only one focus through the lens. Her paintings emphasize, with equal attention, each and every object in them. In photography the object in front of a camera is a subject and the image in the photograph itself is a reflection of the subject. In Provenzano’s work the painted object become not a reflected object, but a subject through her observation. Beyond the distinction between an object and a subject, there is the interaction between them. The precise, rendered images like reflected images of objects in her paintings on the depicted glassware, hold the presence of the artist at the moment she was there.

    In preparation for a painting, Provenzano organizes the still life objects by setting them up in her studio. The whole process until the finishing of one painting takes over a month. She said, “I could orchestrate and compose my art by making intuitive decisions about what I feel connected to. The process is one of time consuming intense focus and close attention to detail. Each painting is a reflection of my ever changing emotional life.”  Her way of seeing and visually synthesizing can be likened to meditation. She completely absorbs her surroundings within her mind’s eye. Her work is another encounter with reality.

    In one of her paintings, Junkyard Sun, we see a toy Michael Jackson, and above him, a toy figure of pro wrestler Junkyard Dog.  Both of them are the artist’s childhood heroes.  A squirrel, a notion of conservation, is placed near the wrestler.  A big fly, a tiny zebra, a pair of shinny pumps, and rats add to the imaginary and surreal atmosphere. The artist also creates the effect of ambiguous time and space by disconnecting the objects from the original context and presenting their sizes differing from those of the real figures. Junkyard holds a bright yellow bow as a symbol of the Sun in one hand and a big caterpillar in the other. The size of bow and the caterpillar is bigger relative to the size of the wrestler. A caterpillar is a metaphor for transformation. This work reflects her symbolic narratives, her inner desires, conflicts, and pleasures.

    Melodie Provenzano’s paintings reveal a spirited talent. Her unique sensory style opens new horizons in the history of still life painting. Her paintings reflect subtleties found in everyday life.  Her approach allows viewers to rethink painting not only in formal terms, but also as a means toward subjectivity.

     

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