San Francisco

Bruno Fazzolari

Anglim Gilbert Gallery

A strangely white-brown (sun-aged?) desk, one short leg a browned end of an unpeeled banana, hides the smiling arc of a golden banana, its ends somehow melded to the underside of the tabletop. As Banna 2001, demonstrates, Bruno Fazzolari is making an art form out of playing with his food.

Witty and weird, Fazzolari’s painted plaster sculptures invoke odd but popular verisimilar representations of foods: the plates of plastic sushi placed outside many Japanese restaurants; the papier-mâché or wooden fruits and vegetables in home-decor stores. His stack pieces, like Statue, 2000, a graceful graded arc of six grapefruit-size oranges, would also seem to be a sly dig at haute architectural piling of delectables at fancy restaurants. But his work goes beyond such commentary. Fazzolari considers and complicates issues of sculpture and support, what might be called the medium’s apples and oranges: He often includes an element that functions as a support (a little table, an overturned cup, a dirty eraser-pink dish), but it is always made of the same material and painted with the same care as what it holds. His “supports” demand attention and produce meaning as much as the “sculptural” arrangements of food do.

With C-Bert, 2000, Fazzolari constructs a loopily exhilarating affair. A ripening Camembert wedge, all oozing butteriness, sits atop a chunky rectilinear slab of what might be chalk or cement, which itself rests on four rather squashed mini-Camemberts—its “feet” (a pun on the odor?). The pale cheese rinds resonate with the chalky white surface of the slab; the minis have broken open under its weight, revealing tiny golden rays of their interiors. The object revisits the possibilities of Oldenburg’s early food sculptures for the Store as well as the referential giddiness of his soft sculptures But Fazzolari’s keen attention to surface and the relation between paint as skin and the rind/skin of many foods, as well as his deliberate and subtle deployment of “natural” and vertiginously skewed colors, point to another artist: Cy Twombly, whose own sculptures are among his most radical and happily perplexing works.

Fazzolari also exhibited seven small paintings, all Untitled, 2001: still lifes of sandwich wedges, cups of coffee, eggs. All were painted in a purposely “clumsy” manner, toying with their own prettiness, calling attention to their differences from the sculptures. Carefully “off” decisions in the most successful works-a pink border around fried eggs with brown yolks, a plaid background and small tray supporting a dark Camembert—opened a Morandiesque sculptural investigation in paint.

Offering counterpoint to many of Fazzolari’s concerns was a mesmerizing installation in an adjacent room of two new paintings by Maureen Gallace and a pair of new sculptures by Vincent Fecteau. Gallace’s intense, ruthless paintings illuminated the painterly moments of Fecteau’s sculptures; his fierce sculptural investigations in turn summoned the geometric and sculptural rigor of Gallace’s paintings. Using the vernaculars of sculpture, painting, and craft, Gallace and Fecteau are creating deeply personal work that abstracts the very notions of the personal or the vernacular. Fazzolari shows where their interventions might lead.

Bruce Hainley