HORTON GALLERY | DECEMBER 8, 2011 – JANUARY 14, 2012
Peter Gallo’s interests are literary as well as painterly, frequently if not always including words or phrases in his eccentric but enjoyable art. With titles like “Intifada,” “Blow up the abbatoir,” and “I’m Not Dead Yet,” one might think that Gallo has set up a barricade to harangue his audience with a message, but the words seem more surreal than provocative. “Paint Symptoms” (2011) is a tallish, narrow oil-on-velvet, with blocks of different colors pushing their way into the viewer’s field of vision. Another oil, on linen backed by found wood, is titled “Ship of Health” (2011); it consists of a rough sketch of a sailing ship centered within a frame painted on the canvas and a grid of dots. The appeal of Gallo’s art comes from its rough-and-tumble technique, which tends to emphasize the content of his paintings rather than the technical skills of the hand. In the work named “Friendship and Modernism” (2011), Gallo includes a rectangle of paint in the middle, framed by thin, broken sticks. This kind of improvisatory, ad hoc creativity often serves to mask poor skills, but in Gallo’s case, the rawness is a genuine part of his aesthetic, whose ungainliness keeps us thinking.
Jonathan Goodman is a teacher and author specializing in Asian art, about which he has been writing for more than twenty years.