• Christine Frechard

Two Italian Masters at Christine Fréchard Gallery

A show at Christine Fréchard Gallery illustrates two very different approaches to contemporary art, two states of mind. One concerns the interpenetration of language and image, while the other contemplates both the destabilizing forces of civilization and the world as global village. Pier Luigi Slis and Laura D’Andrea’s work has come about through deep reflection, and an introspection into the origins of classical culture through genetic memory. While Slis’s work is mainly monochromatic, D’Andrea’s is rich in color.

Slis is a master of perspective, of light and shadow, and the use of directional lines in white, brown and black. He delights in deconstructing cultural objects — piercing towers, curling bridges and compartmentalized blocks of habitations. It is a view of strained human expansion, sometimes meditative, always conscious of corrosive surface elements, clamorous, gas-filled air and the frenetic portrayal of movement.

Slis relishes the plasticity of material, chiseling spray-paint with a knife, joining painted forms with string, incorporating a safety pin into canvas to symbolize a “concrete idea.” These are not just cityscapes but “relations between people,” Slis said in an interview. Slis often places his tag within the painting, figuratively fusing his ego with the object.

By comparison, D’Andrea’s research into calligraphy and ancient scripture have evolved into a type of asemantic writing. In “Leoni Scripture,” cave-picture-like animals stained orange-red are filled with Arabic-type script. D’Andrea uses layering techniques and computer-aided photography. Our reward is works showcasing her lyrical gift and infatuation with color. “Red Moon,” with its swirling colors, red and black crescent moon and scattering of sand, suggests a dream; a charcoal drawing of two trees has a Leonardesque ebullience.

D’Andrea demonstrates a facility with seriography, wood prints and serial imagery. One work contains antique representations of horses against a furious red parchment. Another silk-screen depicts 19th– and 20th-century women who appear to evolve into the “future woman.” A Mediterranean sensuousness is integral to the work, as manifested by three large tapestries of the Venus of Morgantina.

In this show, artists search for original paths — from the funny to the dramatic, from static and decaying to dynamic, from brute matter to the intuitive. It might be messy and imperfect but, as Slis says, “we are in a dramatic situation with good possibilities.”

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