Claude Caroneby Rex Auchincloss
at Maurice Arlos Fine Art
Some artists use abstraction as a simplified pictorial means to access sunken emotional experience and psychological orientation. Consequently, the simplification becomes a departure from narrative, but in this opaque search, a new vein of clarity just may emerge.
Claude Carone grapples with abstraction in order to convey a sensual and dramatic reckoning. In some of his current paintings, set against a barrenly expansive valley, he traces in a figuratively incisive line. His dark, painted charcoal demarcation of continuous contour contrasts with the diffused warmth of landscape undulations and flows through space, while his precise delicacy and broadening of serpentine directions enliven the expanse with the latent volume of a reclining nude. In “Landscape with Green Bush,” the swirling figurative indentations give the small surface a broad space, and the blunt, textural hatchings of subtle change in the terrain correspond to sculptural planes. Of the paintings here displayed, this is probably Carone’s most successful narrative interpretation.
To the surface of his paintings, Carone heightens spatial innuendo by using a fragment of collage, a green crown-like shape placed high on the horizon. Not only does this application function to balance the receding space and the flat surface, but it also reveals a thematic intrigue. The crown is the symbol of a rooted spirit, like a reflection of a lost majesty. While the superimposed image is a tone and color keeping with the pastoral mood, there is a quality of emulsion that deepens the shape and implies a nostalgic fantasy. Both abrupt and subtle, the collage fragment is an emphasis away from ambiguous, abstract simplifications toward the primacy of narrative reckoning.
In “Composition with Figure,” Carone develops the abstraction toward a more explicit depiction. The central dominant shape takes on the image of a dejected figure hanging with head collapsed, like a marionette. The mass is incongruous both as a part to the whole or as an isolated shape. It seems that the artist’s abstract methodology, despite the interplay of collage, falls short of demonstrating the dramatic action with a consistently receding and inhabited space.
In general, the central plottings in the pictures are the beginnings of supporting characters in the overlapping and contortion of Ingres-like folds. On one side, where the spatial organization tapers like a bust, a barely detectable shift into photographic focus crystallizes a textile cloth wrapped around a subject’s forehead and face, with eyes peering out. Broodingly watchful, these women in facile representations might be received as no more than afterthoughts, but for an abstract artist, exploration of narrative priority and thematic resolve ultimately hinge on such clues.