Cold winter hits hard and lingering behind every door is the escape of warmth.
The labyrinth like hallway to ClampArt Gallery and the promise of a newcomer’s art adds to the reward of being indoors. Brian Clamp has cultivated a beautiful stage to showcase great talent. I’m an eager creature to be seeing Against Nature, the work of Pacifico Silano. The name of the show is a translation of a main term found in a German law, Paragraph 175, written in 1871, outlawing anal sex between men. The law would later be reinforced and updated by the Nazis and remain a part of German law until 1994.
Obscured Salute Aryan Ideal
Silano has put specific focus on the era when 175 was in force during the reign of the Nazis. Sitting down with him, we spoke at length about the importance of remembrance and pushing past the pigeonhole term “gay art” into a realm where making work with queer themes allows for exploration and celebration. The works challenge a history that was about taking away control and freedoms. By humanizing these victims, Silano allows new expression to push forward. The imagery focuses on subject, color and design. This is the base of the brilliance of the works’ aesthetic.
The pieces in Against Nature appear, at first, as photographs, when in truth they are far broader in breadth and range. They at times become collaged and sculptural in their layered composition. This is a powerful and regular motif in Silano’s work. His technique is simultaneously additive and subtractive. He pushes the limits of the pictorial plane, allowing the images to become more than a photo; it is an intricate metamorphosis.
A recent School of Visual Arts MFA graduate, one of the more striking aspects about Silano’s work is his intelligence and context. I see John Baldessari and Robert Mapplethorpe, Ray Johnson, and Robert Rauschenberg. Even more contemporary artists like Mark Bradford and Marco Breuer are being referenced. Pacifico Silano’s work is rewarding because he addresses an important art history that spans many decades. Here inAgainst Nature he is adding to a rich vocabulary, particularly those of the Pictures Generation. Silano has created a way to reflect on history and has used his vision to push beyond, to create a new powerful expression.
There’s a whole new world.
Figures in Red Floral in Red, Black, and White
Efrem Zelony-Mindell is an artist who lives in New York. For more of his work click here …
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