Critics’ Picks

Paolo Colombo, Untitled (Working Table 1), 2016, ink-jet print, 6.5 x 5".

Paolo Colombo, Untitled (Working Table 1), 2016, ink-jet print, 6.5 x 5".


Paolo Colombo

Qbox Gallery
Armodiou 10, Varvakios agora 1st floor
October 11–November 30, 2016

An exhibition of watercolors and photographs by Paolo Colombo portrays an intimate and mysterious cosmos populated by everyday objects (all works untitled and 2016). Several photographs capture artifacts on the artist’s worktable—tiny shells, pottery shards, and beach stones—imbued with the significance of personal talismans. Three photos of plastic Greek baskets embellished with floral motifs, collected by Colombo in the 1970s, look as precious as china against luminous marble backgrounds.

In the paintings, simple geometric shapes or flat forms of birds and human hands interrupt fields of color composed of interweaving lines of two hues—Prussian blue and opera pink, for example. These intricately wrought compositions convey a sense of animation in their fine, quivering crosshatched lines. The intersecting strokes seem too regular to have been drawn by hand yet too wobbly to have been mechanically aided, interrogating the nature of perfection, even its desirability. The artist has purposefully incorporated asymmetry throughout these images, such as uneven gaps between the color matrices, making the pictures seem to float off the paper, as ephemeral as memories.

Colombo is descended from a family of Italian fabric vendors, and the formal elements in his work—grids, squares, diamonds, and dots—echo textile textures and details. Three empty holes in one composition, arranged like buttons between the two panels of a man’s suit, were inspired by what the artist remembered, not entirely accurately, as the jacket worn by Pierrot in Jean-Antoine Watteau’s cryptic 1719 painting. Half hidden around a corner in the gallery is a photograph of a Piet Mondrian painting as displayed on the white wall of a museum, and next to it a still life of Colombo’s brush and drawing pencil atop a work in progress. Like the Dutch artist’s work, this artist’s compositions embody the rhythm of life with an elegant efficiency.