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The Green Paintings of Lucio Pozzi

Lucio Pozzi’s new paintings are green. They are the green of pastures, apples, moss, and clover, but they are also the green of oceans, emeralds, envy, jade, tea leaves, and the goddess Tara. Pozzi welcomes diverse interpretations of and associations from the Green Paintings in much the same that he refuses to limit his production to any particular genre or style. Some time ago, Pozzi devised a period table of art, which includes all of the elements from which a work of art can be produced. It is chart of ingredients that can be combined to achieve different effects. For the Green Paintings he combined green with improbable chromatic bedfellows along with heavy impasto and the device of visually dividing his compositions at midpoint from top to bottom with a horizontal line.

Lucio Pozzi, Even Pastures, 2001, oil on canvas, 26 x 24 inches.

Compositionally, Pozzi’s Green Paintings rely on dynamic quadrants, much like fields from his chart of art ingredients. The quadrants are defined by bands of parallel cross-hatching applied with a palette knife in colors ranging from blue to gray to ochre (always over green). The four bands, on top and bottom each define a rectangular field of the green ground in their center. These schematic divisions reflect Pozzi’s more analytic side. But there must be a healthy measure of landscape in the paintings as well. Perhaps the central line is a horizon and the lower register reflects the higher like water in a lake reflects fields and hills above. As a child, Pozzi was quarantined for malaria in his house in Milan but he would escape by painting fantastic landscapes. When the 9.11 attacks took place, minutes from his studio, Lucio Pozzi responded by painting a beautiful landscape with mimosa, which he painted repeatedly as a visual mantra. Like Paul Cézanne’s varied but consistent paintings of Mont Saint-Victoire, Pozzi’s Green Paintings combine natural observation with a highly personal geometry and emotional intensity.

If there is an antecedent for the Green Paintings in Pozzi’s oeuvre it is the Rag Rug series. The latter title refers to those carpets sewn together from remnants of varied fabric that one often sees in the country. When Pozzi speaks of this work he speaks of process and emotion, and the inevitable dialogue between these two elements. Like the Green Paintings, Rag Rug series make use of impastoed, striated bands of cross-hatching (in various colors) that intersect over the picture plane. The artist views painting them as an exercise in Zen detachment and attentiveness combined, at times, with a more emotional involvement akin to Jazz improvisation. Similarly, in the Green Paintings one senses a dynamic tension between conflicting desires to rhapsodize with color and paint and the will to impose structure.

Lucio Pozzi, Spinning Grass, 2001, oil on canvas, 26 x 24 inches.

When one looks at the paintings, at least for a moment, one thinks of cultivated fields seen from above. Looking down from an airplane one can admire verdant rows of seedlings and view parcels of farmland distinct from one another in the orientation and variety of their plantings. But this desire to view topography is subverted by the horizontal division. It is Pozzi’s artifice that calls you back into the realm of abstract painting. Similarly, the geometry of each painting softly diffuses into the ground at its edges. Each of the paintings is a gestalt resulting in more than the sum of its parts (even if they are drawn from Pozzi’s own chart). More than palette, geometry, impasto, or landscape, each canvas is a world unto itself which rewards the viewer with its nuanced pictorial exploration of new visual territory.

From May 1 through June 7, 2003, Lucio Pozzi’s Green Paintings were on view at the Marvelli Gallery at 526 West 26th Street in New York City. Tel. 212-627-3363.

© 2003 Daniel Rothbart. All rights reserved.

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