Albany Times Union (Sunday)

See the rainbow

Show at the Arts Center plunges audiences into technicolo­r brilliance

- By William Jaeger

Kaleidosco­pic show at the Arts Center of Capital Region a salve for the soul.

You want a salve for dark times? Try the big, bright, colorful show of paintings on cut and sewn fabric by Gina Occhiogros­so at the Art Center for the Capital Region. Rounded shapes and detached edges float and overlap like bubbles and lollipops in nearly every piece, all with apparent ease but without turning saccharine or childish. Occhiogros­so’s forceful mastery of materials and design announces that this is quite serious fun, that this is high art that happens to revel in its joyous effects.

The show is aptly called “Surfacing,” the many shapes maneuvered in flat layers. They sometimes turn into edge to edge patterns, but more often they flock together as forms with merely similar intentions, trapped — mostly — in two dimensions. This isn’t psychedeli­c stuff. It’s more like pillow whispers, giddy daydreams. And it draws you to not only the painted elements, but to the substrate, the canvas. Here is the artist’s stylistic innovation: the canvases are not whole. Or if complete now, they once were in pieces that are now sewn together. Discover this and the complex surfaces become active players as much as the paint on them.

In a few, like the large, squarish “Never Say Never,” the canvas is deliberate­ly left airy, or perforated, the gaps forming

their own rhythm amid the rest. In another, “Over and Under,” irregular vertical strips of painted canvas in shades of green and blue are interwoven with horizontal strands of yarn pulled taut.

Nearly every work finesses this consistent play of layer and color. Circles, their edges either sharp or diffused, are cut or obscured by lines, so other patterns and geometries appear in different, related ways from piece to piece. There are rich hues and sometimes clashing ones, but these are often intersecte­d with a warp and weft of unpainted white canvas in thick meandering bands, softening the assault of color, building a flattened architectu­re.

Occhiogros­so’s work is entirely abstract, nonreprese­ntational. I was glad to mindlessly let my eyes work the surfaces, darting in and out to feel its effect in different ways. The titles are mostly baffling—though I confess I’ve never been able to make abstractio­ns fit concrete ideas. One of my favorite works here shows a series of sharp circles with little lines attached that float like plump flamingos over a diffused target made of greenish rings. But it’s not called "Florida Dreams" or "Piña Colada." It’s called “False Alarm.”

Such titles do have a chipper flair that adds to the experience: “Lift Off,” “Try, Try, Again,” “Breathless,” and so on for over 30 works. But mainly, the works insist on their warm, modernist, abstracted exploratio­ns of canvas and paint, of visual effects and ineffable sensations. Palpably satisfying.

The mere sewing of cloth has another grand distinctio­n, since it implies a love of “women’s work,” an associatio­n with handwork and fabric that is related deep down to quiltmakin­g and other crafts. Crafts that are proudly fine art as well. This is no accident. Occhiogros­so’s mother was a shoe designer in New York, and her mother’s mother created fine lacework on linens. The artist’s other grandmothe­r was a seamstress. Such connection­s are not inevitable, but they make sense.

The whole show makes sense, and the large gallery space is brimming. The artist has a deeply satisfying feel for the spatial and physical results at hand, and while this is suggested in photos in a newspaper, it needs to be felt firsthand for all its subtle refinement.

 ?? ??
 ?? Photos by William Jaeger ?? Zooming in to “Never Say Never” by Gina Occhiogros­so, one can see the stitching of the sewn-together pieces of muslin.
Photos by William Jaeger Zooming in to “Never Say Never” by Gina Occhiogros­so, one can see the stitching of the sewn-together pieces of muslin.
 ?? ?? “Tomorrow Will Be Different” is a 2021 piece made with oil and acrylic ink on pieced and sewn muslin. It is part of the “Surfacing” show at the Arts Center of the Capital Region.
“Tomorrow Will Be Different” is a 2021 piece made with oil and acrylic ink on pieced and sewn muslin. It is part of the “Surfacing” show at the Arts Center of the Capital Region.
 ?? ?? Gina Occhiogros­so’s “Never Say Never,” 2020. Acrylic ink, textile paint and flashe on pieced and sewn muslin.
Gina Occhiogros­so’s “Never Say Never,” 2020. Acrylic ink, textile paint and flashe on pieced and sewn muslin.
 ?? Photos by William Jaeger ?? Folks who attend the installati­on will be transporte­d toa technicolo­r world.
Photos by William Jaeger Folks who attend the installati­on will be transporte­d toa technicolo­r world.
 ?? ?? Gina Occhiogros­so, “False Alarm,” 2021.
Gina Occhiogros­so, “False Alarm,” 2021.

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