New York

Peter Bardazzi

Cordier and Ekstrom Gallery

Talk about commodity objects leads right (not to make a pun) to Peter Bardazzi’s paintings, compositions in which piles of curvilinear and conical abstract shapes topple into and away from one another, never fail to depress. The paintings are completely involved with nostalgia for the period immediately around the First World War, in particular—as far as the paintings are concerned—for Futurism. They are abstractions in Bloomingdale colors that literally, which is to say pictorially, take place in a void.

The collages are just as bad. Untitled Collage, 1974, features a variety of referents to the twilight of the 19th century, including several ladies draped by the artist, and a gentleman in what is most likely consular headgear, French, British, or Russian. On the other hand, he might be a general. At the center is an inverted map of Persia, and this reference is maintained by a medal at the extreme right which seems to be inscribed in Arabic. But the other maps seem to be predominantly American—the continents, rather than the nation—which as far as I can see further reduces whatever vague focus the stuff from the last days of Empire might have had to offer, and the result seems to be about as motivated as a collage-covered lampshade. It’s incredible that things like this get hung, let alone sold, but it is even more scandalous that Bardazzi should be included in collections such as that of The Museum of Modern Art. This is art for the aimless and unthinking, which brings one back to Futurism, a tendency noted for its mindless love affair with fascism.

Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe