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    Complete archive, 1999-present


      Negativo no. 8 in Carla Accardi
       Courtesy Sperone Westwater
      Negativo no. 8
    Simply Grand

    Carla Accardi's simple visual language speaks volumes in paintings from 1955-2004 on view at Sperone Westwater.


    Carla Accardi inhabits her own lexicon where Klee meets Haring, in a topography of hieroglyphs. Her vibrant tableaux describe and reference while defying objects or signifiers. Moving through distinct but connected stylistic phases, the exhibition at Sperone Westwater should help expand the audience for this important representative of the Italian avant garde.

    From the start, Accardi stuck to a strict chromatic scale that is based on high-key dualities — whether black against white or searing red over steamy yellow. In "Negativo no. 8" she uses cursive forms to outline interlocking passages that beckon like back alleys. The loops and lines bend and jostle, their sharp boundaries giving way to jumbled animation, perhaps quoting the Italian Futurists, particularly Umberto Boccioni. A quarter of a century and more later Keith Haring would re-invent this kind of unadorned line and attendant palette strategy.

    Exhibition: Paintings 1955-2004.
    Works by: Carla Accardi.
    January 8 - February 19, 2005

    Gallery: Sperone Westwater
    415 West 13th St.
    New York NY
    Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 6 pm
    Phone: (212) 999-7337

    Brilliantly high keyed, "Azzurro arrianciao" puts orange literally underneath a cutout blue filigree, begging the question of foreground and background. In "Memoria della Scilia," scruffy "numbers" seemingly march from right to left, morphing as they go, declarative, transient and persistently elusive. The implied symbols are presented in bands that form rhythmic layers. Here the lines are not hard. Wisps replace assertions and signs are re-distributed — time seems to leave its shadow burned onto the wall, a tautness present in the dissolution.

    Accardi is the only living member of the group she helped found in the late 1940s. The Form, (Forma 1), stressed formalism and Marxism and championed art that conveyed "utility, harmonious beauty... nonheaviness."

      Memoria della Sicilia in Carla Accardi
       Courtesy Sperone Westwater
      Memoria della Sicilia
    Capturing this essence, Accardi's works from the 60s and 70s are painted on a kind of clear plastic (sicofoil), giving them a temporality that seems to make light of weighty matters. Their translucence often reveals a cross in the picture's frame behind the surface. The effects are at once clumsy and clever — public and private. This ability to have it both ways is at the heart of the artist's magnetic charm.

    Scruffy "numbers" seemingly march from right to left, morphing as they go, declarative, transient and persistently elusive.  

    In "Segni Verdi" Accardi uses repeated brush strokes of varnish to build up wavy rows or stripes — like blades of grass blowing in the wind. In the 1966 gold and white "Bianco oro" her strokes add up to a web. The alchemy here suggests something of the time, caught right before your eyes, still wriggling and alive.

    The most recent works seamlessly synthesize former elements Accardi has focused on. A telegraphic crackle of paint traverses these larger canvases. Still contained within their two opposing colors, the lines now are deliberate and formal. No jagged edges or eddies of gestural residue are left in these streamlined babies. The lines remain aligned while not touching. They have found a buoyant balance that is at once eloquent and exuberant and bespeaks rugged independence. The paintings have become labyrinths. They demand and deserve a certain amount of distance in their distillation. And for the viewer, that distillation packs a spirited punch!

    FEBRUARY 13, 2005

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