VINCENT ROMANIELLO at Philadelphia Art Alliance

Vincent Romaniello, Untitled 739, 2007, 64" x 96"

Philadelphia painter and filmmaker, Vincent Romaniello is showing a group of striking and beautiful paintings at the Philadelphia Art Alliance Satellite Gallery. The show, titled "Deep", consists of large and small works, all with thick furrowed surfaces that were inspired by aerial views of landscapes, but really transcend their source. Vincent explained to me how these pieces are made, but I still can't quite grasp his process. It involves a thick layer of gesso that is raked with handmade tools in broad sweeping gestures across the entire surface, then dusted with dry pigment and/or charcoal dust. It's a quick, one-shot deal, as the gesso is only workable for a short time, and with each gesture what you get is what you get. I really enjoy that element of risk and chance that is built into these works. As products of a mindset and a process, these paintings recall zen gardens; and also relate to the ploughed fields of Vincent's Italian heritage. As objects, their raw physicality and simple elegance give them a commanding presence that is charged with a sort of earthy reverence. I couldn't help thinking of those Alberto Burri cracked clay slabs shown in New York a few weeks ago. Vincent is fusing a deep connection to the earth with a fully integrated painting process, making works that are as much embodiments of a world view as they are aesthetic objects.