Good things in small packages
Some of the fun things about writing this column are the surprises you find when stepping over the threshold of a gallery you haven’t been in before.
The people working inside are usually delightful, are happy to talk about the art and artists, and discuss the latest doings around the Valley’s art scene.
Cardinal Gallery is no exception. The surprise comes when the visitor realizes how small their venue is. The space is limited and, as a result, restricts the number of works that can be displayed.
The owners have wisely kept the number of artists they exhibit to three. In this way, each can be properly represented and a reasonable number of pieces shown, allowing the enthusiast to develop a sense of awareness and appreciation for the style being demonstrated.
One of the drawbacks of this particularly confined space is that you cannot stand back far enough to adequately assess some of the art, nor is there, in some cases, enough light to view the piece. Aside from that, the gallery is pleasant and can still provide a worthwhile viewing.
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The represented artists are different enough in style so as to make the visit interesting.
Of the three, I was impressed most by Bruno Paoli’s paintings. Having been born in Italy in 1915, this is an artist who has been creating for a very long time indeed.
Referred to by critics as reminiscent of Gauguin and Modigliani, two rather disparate painters, Paoli’s work at first appears to be simple and merely sketches or studies for some larger, unfinished vision. Yet, considering the results, it becomes apparent this is a master of his medium, who exhibits a clear understanding of gesture and expression.
Women, the focus of most of the paintings, stand against a scumbled background of color, a slash of black with a dab of white defining the eyes, a stroke of pink or red forming the mouth. Yet this seemingly rushed application of pigment manages to convey the workings of the subject’s mind: a pout, a stare, even wistfulness is portrayed with skill, deftness and comprehension.
Conversely, Norberto Martini’s paintings, while ecclesiastic in nature, are whimsical. The canvases are populated by scores of flying cherubs or altar boy figures, floating above and in the background. These canvases are expansive, and could easily be a study for a Dali-esque set design.
The Andrea Stella work is symbolic and semi-figurative in nature. The process Stella has created is quite unique and requires a time-intensive and meticulous fusing of gold and copper leaf onto the canvas. Chemical solutions are then added to promote oxidation and coloring. The figures, although somewhat obscure at first, possess a dream-like rhythm and fill the imagery with a decorative, yet metaphorical, composition. Cardinal is currently the exclusive representative of Stella’s work in the United States.
In addition to the art covering the walls, Cardinal is also a jewelry showcase. The rings, necklaces and bracelets in silver, gold and platinum, enhanced by sparkling diamonds, invite closer inspection.
Stew Mosberg is a freelance writer and recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the author of two books on design and can be reached at WrtrF@aol.com
Gallery: Cardinal Gallery
Location: 160 Gore Creek Drive
Hours: Daily 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.