Critics’ Picks

View of “Sculptured Paintings & Painting Sculptures,” 2013.

View of “Sculptured Paintings & Painting Sculptures,” 2013.

Los Angeles

Antonio Adriano Puleo

The Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Cal State L.A.
5151 State University Drive California State University
April 6–June 1, 2013

Stripping away affect and objective referent, Antonio Adriano Puleo’s new body of work relies on form, color, and process. Composed primarily of bits of string, fabric, wood, cardboard, and a large quantity of paint, these paintings and sculptures are refreshing in their direct simplicity. The exhibition as a whole is equally imbued with tradition and innovation, but four works in particular—Untitled 1b-35b, 1c-35c, 1d-35d, and 1e-35e, all 2010-13—embody this fusion; each consists of thirty-five nine-by-twelve-inch paintings in the shape of a grid. Like instruments in an orchestra, each individual painting has a presence that empowers and completes the whole, such as a mustard yellow canvas split by two verticals stitched together with string; four springtime-green horizontal panels hung together in a row, completed only by empty space; and two painted bands of fuchsia, rimmed with grey.

Puleo’s approach recalls not only the form but also the sensibility of Minimalism with form, color, and shape as a means of expressing essential experience through a distilled visual vocabulary whether via, as Frank Stella would have it, direct perception or, as Barnett Newman suggested, a new kind of symbol. At the same time, the work’s playful process evokes the use of unconventional materials in post-Minimalist collage and sculpture. X, Y, Z, 2011, one of several small to midsize sculptures included, is constructed simply of six wooden rectangles framing the central vertical, rays connected with bits of rope; like each painting in the large groups, its fragile ease and elegance might be lost were it not surrounded by so many of its compatriots, creating a language of their own.