Sally Bruno: “SURF SKATE SNOW” at Chimento Contemporary
By By Jacqueline Bell Johnson
Sally Bruno’s solo show SURF SKATE SNOW is up right now at Chimento Contemporary. The show consists of six oil paintings in a whiter than white gallery space. Sally’s paintings have always been loaded with impasto, but there is something new on the horizon here. She is an artist that paints by the pint -not the tube, and scoops it lusciously onto the canvas with a palette knife. While wet, the paint is spread over a section and worked into patterns and textures usually reserved for wedding cakes and old school Plaster ceilings. It is very tight, very skilled, and requires a practiced hand.
Bruno’s studio time is not quiet and contemplative… the size of her canvases and the physicality of the paint demand as much from her physicality to bring these works to fruition. Swinging of arms and constant stepping back and moving in are only a part of it. Mentally, she goes back and forth, changing her mind, willing to try and retry combinations of color and texture (which means scraping off handfuls of paint) until the perfect amalgamation is reached.
This new group of paintings, while still showcasing her trademark paint handling, is much looser. The meringue like surface is not designated to specific areas, letting the background and foreground blend together and trail off. Layers and layers of colors are laid down over top of each other, the bottom layers then revealed by a violent excavation: piercing through the wet terrain to reveal what is hidden underneath. Her treatment of color has changed too. Previous works contained vibrant fresh-out-of-the-can colors left pure save for the pulling into patterns with other pure colors. Here we see a use of mixed tones, partial blends with colored stripes smeared on the surface. There is also a much heavier usage of black and white and even these are mixed and muddied.
The largest painting in the show is a landscape of black and white with spots of color poking through. This painting is physically difficult to look at: it seems to strobe as you do. The black and white are alternated in dots and stripes giving a slight sense of goth fashion. Upon closer examination you see several sets of eyes. In fact, all of her paintings have faces hidden within the peaks and valleys.
They are simplistically done, not hinting at observation, portraiture, or a specific reference. Given the title of the show, I interpret these to be the personification of athleticism: an overwhelming rush, satisfaction, and the body and mind merged with the landscape. After catching the highlights of this year’s Olympics I think we can all agree that there is a level of almost surreal handling of the body and its ability to both succumb and conquer natural laws. Of course, it is only achieved by a few, the rest of us are spectators.
Sally Bruno: Surf Skate Snow
September 10 – October 22, 2016
Gallery Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 11 – 5 p.m.
622 South Anderson Street
Los Angeles, CA 90023