The Elizabeth Harris Gallery will present a selection (1978-2010) of paintings from the career of Victor Pesce 1938-2010. This will be the first exhibition of his work since his passing in March 2010 and the 10th time the gallery has shown his work.
The exhibition starts with work from 1978 that is totally abstract and with these repetitive mark laden and overall compositions Pesce serves notice with a palette that provides a visual compass for his entire career. The 1980's mark a shift as Pesce began painting lush expressionist faces that show his developing virtuosity.
"These are exceedingly dense compositions, and the artist has stated that he was attempting to paint the landscape in the faces. The subjects of these paintings, all gimlet-eyed faces, stare out at us from a primordial darkness,
while the potential energy previously locked in the daubs of oil in the earlier abstract works is now unleashed in layers of dark slashing brush strokes."
Deven Golden 2013
Pesce continued to explore figuration into the 90's but there is a shift in his compositions as they become more contained – still life-like – reductive. Having reached a more comfortable zone he depicted everyday items. Ultimately he took to creating painted geometric forms from cardboard, and these served as an alternative muse.
"Mr. Pesce's palette was dark, rich and implicitly naturalistic but sparked by moments of yellow-green, hot pink or a resonant blue. To eliminate reflections, he usually painted the objects themselves before making the paintings. Sometimes he built the small boxes he was portraying, giving them crenellated profiles that made them look useless and artificial, as if they existed for the sake of painting alone, which they did."
Roberta Smith, The New York Times, 2010