Los Angeles

Aldo Pagliacci

Parsons Gallery

Sunset Strip is an appropriate setting for the sexy religious subjects of a Mantegnesque Italian with a tweak of La Dolce Vita. Surreal by intent, Pagliacci juxtaposes Eros with Jesus, risqué party girls at the mockery, bulls with Roman portals and flaming, hearty hi-ho Silvers with stately cathedrals. This sort of protest, if that’s what it is, is old hat. The best of these paintings are quite good—when the artist settles down to making a picture and forgets about banal theatricality. The peculiar blend of Freud, the settecento, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Donizetti’s Paglicco make up too sweet a combination. On the other hand, this slick style is well suited to renaissance-type depiction, when the double-entendre is not a trick. The artist seems to be able to work well enough, despite being irrevocably bound by tradition, (the Futurists appear never to have despoiled him.) But even within those confines there is room for good painting without gimmicks. It’s not quite clear whether the artist realizes this. He ought to.

Arthur Secunda