Donna Talerico at Greenwich House Gallery
Former fashion illustrator turned fine artist Donna Talerico’s new paintings at the Greenwich House Gallery unabashedly trumpet their influences. Inspired by post impressionist attitudes, Talerico’s work is direct; filled with light, color, and a painterly approach to the canvas. Her choice of subject matter: landscapes, street scenes, solitary figures, and cafés filled with anonymous patrons hearken back to the days when France was the epicenter of innovative western art.
Contemporary artists working within the context of past idioms is nothing new. Often unfairly dismissed as derivative or retrograde, works like these are frequently overlooked, but interestingly, not all is as it seems with Donna Talerico’s painting. Her use of broad, muscular brushstrokes actually have considerably more in common with mid century American abstraction than that of their late 19th and early 20th century French counterparts. And her surfaces, which upon first glance appear to be treated with a rich impasto, are, under close scrutiny, revealed to be quite flat, a sort of inverse Van Gogh that allows the viewer to detect the texture of the underlying canvas. Finally, Talerico executes her work in acrylic and yet somehow manages to achieve the radiant luster associated with oils.
In this current exhibition, Talerico has a tendency to pack her pictures in tight. By pushing the maximum amount of color and brush stroke the support can handle, some of the paintings feel a little too dense. And while many of her street scenes suffer from a sense of being overloaded, Talerico is adept at using the visual language of impressionism to create works that are truly arresting. In Devant Le Miroir, Talerico does everything right. By restricting her palette to fewer hues and giving us a strong central figure, Talerico creates a surface that allows color to breathe; opening the space and allowing the viewer in. Devant Le Miroir is also less vigorously stroked, striking a more delicate (and decidedly better) balance between intensity and placidity than several of her other pieces. Many of her finest works in the show also emphasize simplified or restricted approaches to color. Both Café le Arts and Apt. A, Provence are able to deftly break out of the background noise created by some of the streetscapes by capitalizing on color palettes that are in essence simple complementary relationships.
Donna Talerico clearly knows how to handle paint and make it move. Many of the most refined works in the show indicate that far from imitation, Talerico is arriving at style that is both personal and mature. While works such as these may no longer possess the shock of the new to 21st century eyes, enthusiasts of early modernism will find more than their share of small pleasures in her work.
-Alan D. Pocaro
Fresh From France: Recent Paintings by Donna Talerico on view at Greenwich House Gallery through August 6th. 2124 Madison Rd. Cincinnati, Ohio 45208. (513)-871-8787.
Pictured Above: Devant Le Miroir, Acrylic on Canvas. 30”X36”. Courtesy of Greenwich House Gallery and the Artist at www.bestpaperwriting.com.