New York

Vincent Gallo

Annina Nosei Gallery

Vincent Gallo paints what could be called “found sculptural objects,” metal plates that look like big switchbox covers. They are rusty, formerly painted, very scraped, very artistically reduced and de-finished. These are contemporary relics, discards of ”condoed" industrial buildings. On top of these abraded metal surfaces Gallo has painted neo-Roman still lifes of tables, bowls, and grapes.

A graffiti artist told me that he found Gallo’s grape paintings "soft.” Softness has many causes. I think in this case the graffiti artist found Gallo’s paintings too decorative, as if they were too good-looking for their own good. I don’t think they’re soft, but I can’t say that the majority of them won’t hang in dining rooms. That’s okay, isn’t it? If I had a dining room I’d want one of these paintings to hang right over the wall safe where the Château Yquem is kept.

There was a lot of similar “found sculptural object” stuff in Patti Astor’s going-out-of-business sale at the Fun Gallery, which emphasized the non-canvas painting activities of the graffiti artists. Those bold experiments of just a few years ago obviously influenced Gallo, who is still finding nice objects on which to paint. I like paintings on metal. City dwellers don’t have all those dusting problems with them that you have with a canvas; just be sure to keep them out of acid rain.

Gallo’s personal style and that of his paintings seem to be part of a classy classical approach to life. If you want themes, his fake Roman frescoes are rife with them, despite their minimal symbolism. These are grapes of decorative wrath, a Bacchic defense against erosion and oblivion.

Glenn O’Brien