From Italy hails a troika of young painters bent on resurrecting the romantic notion of painting that those Post-Modern ruffians have trampled underfoot. Dominico Bianchi, Gianni Dessi and Giuseppe Gallo share studio space in Rome, exhibit together, and write poetry and prose celebrating their own and each other’s work, along with Ceccobelli (who’s absent from this group show). Though they resist being labeled a particular “school,” they do present themselves with considerable bravado and a hifalutin manifesto (proclaiming the usual stuff). Amazingly enough, their work can stand the strain of all the hoopla.
Though distinct differences dominate the work of all three artists, they can be described collectively as Swashbuckling Painters. Ambitious, bold and oh-so-romantic, their work is rooted in a reverence for tradition and informed with a solemn religiosity. Intoxicated with an aesthetician’s revision of history, this work isn’t out to upset the apple cart; rather it seeks to ennoble and inspire.
All three painters poise between figuration and abstraction, but it’s Gallo who climbs the riskiest high wire. Aglow with the patina of history, his shimmering fields of color are punctuated with the merest whisper of figurative form. Built around a palette of deep black and glowering red reminiscent of Renaissance Florentines of the Gallo’s luminous meditations on light read as metaphors for spirituality.
Bianchi’s work has a slightly more severe iconic quality. Incorporating wood, burlap, terra cotta and wax, it is also more brashly “modern.” The same might be said of Dessi. Working with a sense of composition evocative of Rauschenberg, Dessi stitches his mixed media pictures together with loose painterly brushwork that seems downright irreverent--relatively speaking of course. Dessi might look a tad jaunty in the company he keeps here, but compared with the countless painters currently mining the Post-Modern vein, he--along with Gallo and Bianchi--is like a trip to high mass. (L.A. Louver, 55 N. Venice Blvd., 77 Market St., to July 25.)