Gallery Closed for holidays: Dec. 21 - Jan. 3
Green Street is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition of paintings by Emil Corsillo. Corsillo received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and completed his M.F.A at Boston University in 2003. He lives in South Boston and maintains a studio in the Fort Point Channel area.
Emil Corsillo creates vibrant,
high chroma works that push and pull the viewer through tilting layers
of urban landscapes and graphic pattern. Corsillo composes collapsing
and folding arrangements of construction, destruction and security that
are irresistibly dangerous. Shiny, hard-edged stripes that mimic caution
tape create an unnerving, pulsating tension. The paintings are worked
and reworked, with unmodulated areas of color meticulously applied in
some places, and loosely brushed on paint in others. He contrasts realistically
detailed areas with simplified, boldly outlined forms rendered in the
flat, cartoon-like browns and grays of video games.
The emotional effectiveness of each work stems from the artist’s ability to place us at the scene. The large scale of each painting makes us keenly aware of our protected or imperiled position in relationship to the towering machismo of the I-beam frameworks and precarious work sites. Shifting diagonals and verticals loom ominously overhead as our viewpoint feels confined by chain link fences, piles of debris and heavy concrete barriers. Corsillo manages to transform a masculine, Home Depot palette of “DeWalt Yellow”, “Battleship Gray” and “Safety Orange” into a cacophony of environmental, military and political apocalypses.
Left to right - Ministry of Peace, (2004) enamel on panel 80h x 60 inches
O'er the Ramparts, (2004) enamel and spray paint on panel 80h x 60 inches,
Free Speech Zone, (2004) enamel on panel 80h x 90 inches
The photographic sources of the images are often recognizable to Boston
pedestrians: the metal skeleton revealed by the destruction of the elevated
highway and Orange Line subway tracks, and the construction/deconstruction
of security walls, traffic barriers and fences. Other sources are more
“loaded” like the fence erected around the “Free Speech Zone” during the
Democratic convention. Emil says he “likes the idea that some of the images
in [his] paintings come from demolished or soon-to-be-demolished structures
and others are from buildings in the process of being constructed.”
All of these paintings are all created on multiple panels (two are usually used or three in the far right image above) which are then attached together to create a larger rectangle. The artist’s investigation of boundaries is made visible in lines that are exaggerated by abrupt changes in composition to imply breaks between panels where there are none and to reveal the otherwise subtle boundary between adjacent panels. Corsillo thoughtfully translates these boundaries, both political and visual, into conceptual juxtapositions of viewer / painting, foreground / background, and present / future. It is this overlap between formal and conceptual structure that sets up such a rich experience for the viewer.
Creating images that appear futuristic, apocalyptic and ominous out of everyday, street-level scenes ties these Orwellian worlds to Corsillo’s observations of the actual changes in his neighborhood. As the artist explains, the painting "O'er The Ramparts" (2004) was motivated by the ring of Jersey barriers that surrounds the Federal Reserve Bank Building, which I walk past every day when I go to and from my studio. The barriers are there to protect the building and the people who work there, presumably because they have been specifically identified as a potential terrorism target. The reason for the huge barricade is ostensibly for the safety of the employees, the building, and whatever else the building contains. But I wondered how safe the people who work there feel every day and if the actual effect of the barricade isn't that it breeds more fear and makes people on the outside feel safer for not having to work inside the "barricaded zone." In a moment of free association I thought about the lines from The Star Spangled Banner:
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