Marc Travanti

John Davis Gallery

Marc Travanti shares with the Cubists and Futurists an interest in extending the scope of the picture to accommodate fragments of reality. Using the technique of collage pioneered by Braque and Picasso, Travanti works with newspaper fragments cut out from various American and foreign periodicals. The fragments are glued to solid rectangular supports, most of which are made of wood. Travanti arranges his material in rhythmical passages, with much attention paid to edge and direction, and to what possible impact the words and letters contained in the pieces of columns and headlines carry. This ground, with its relief construction, provides the artist with the base for building the rest of the composition. In each work, the imagery is a combination of collaged and rendered elements. In Untitled, 1989, the largest work shown, the lively patterns formed by the newspaper fragments are intensified by vigorously drawn shapes and painted white highlights. For this piece, Travanti asked a number of people to draw parts of the composition, which he then drew and painted over at will. Thus, the artist challenged the autonomy of the work’s authorship.

In Vestment, 1989, the idea of the picture as a dynamic field of visual incident is conveyed in striking fashion by the sweeping and swaying movements of lines and planes. The messages sent by this particular field are noticeably ambiguous and open-ended. The work has both abstract and associative connotations. The converging passages create an overall rhythmical impression, as well as an illusionistic depth. In Son, 1989, and From, 1989, which feature the abstraction of religious signs and symbols (Christ on the cross and the madonna and child, respectively), Travanti demonstrates how content arises from the very body of the surface of the picture. In Terra Cotta and Bronze, 1989, the focus is on the multiple levels of reality, from the literal to the imitative, that can be accommodated by the picture.

Ronny Cohen