An exhibition of scrupulously rendered illusory and mysterious paintings by Carmen Cicero entitled Visionary Paintings will open at the June Kelly Gallery, 166 Mercer Street, on Friday, December 14. The works will remain on view through January 29, 2013.
The paintings point to Cicero’s open mind toward mating spiritual and symbolic imagery to bridge reality and metaphor. Cicero’s endless psychic probing with tranquil comic apparitions reflects both his reverence for the natural environment and obsession with the mystical interconnectedness among all things.
Cicero’s uncompromising fascination with themes that are deeply personal and enigmatic are exposed in the surreal alliances he postulates among his subjects. The provocative results are the magical resonances that are original, perhaps quirky, and hypnotic.
Cicero uses humor as a stimulant to initially engage attention, then coupled with his subtle cunning, he launches his search for deeper realizations. The tone and spirit in Cicero’s work mesmerize the viewer with eerie quietness, bolstering the unnerving mystery and firing up curiosity for a rational interpretation of commonplace sites and figures linked in isolated strange happenstance.
For example, he offers an apparent standoff on a deserted road with an oversize owl working on roadkill, or a Shakespearean maiden and fox behaving alluringly in drifts of snow, or a lone figure pushing a cloth-covered wheelbarrow stealthily through a dense growth of trees.
Or we find, in a similar dense growth of trees, an old-fashioned subway kiosk standing unexplained in this desolate landscape.
All of these tableaux are painted with Cicero’s meticulous detail in the trees, limbs and leaves and are suffused with the pervading glow of a full moon.
Cicero’s evocative scenarios reflect the artist’s psychic response to the concept of an inner eye and sense of reality found only in the deepest reaches of consciousness. Perhaps for him, his paintings are catalysts for ideas and truths as he perceives them and wants them to become known.
“Something ambiguous, yet intellectually challenging is always happening in Cicero’s paintings,” said art writer Phyllis Braff in an essay on the artist in 2004.
A native of New Jersey, Cicero holds a BA from Newark State Teachers College and an MFA from Montclair State. He lives in New York City and Truro on Cape Cod.
His work is represented in numerous public, corporate and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Newark Museum, The Montclair Museum of Art, National Academy Museum, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, MA; West Publishing Company, St. Paul, MN; and Musei Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Holland.
In 2012 Carmen Cicero received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.