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[Fine Art]

Drawn in?

Moszkowicz’s New Work succeeds at root but feels haphazardly presented

Image
Moszkowicz’s “Sailor in Love”

What is it about drawing? Everybody loves lines on paper. Graphite, pen and ink, etching and woodcuts, you name it. Maybe it’s just relatable—everyone used to draw as a kid, and that makes the medium accessible at its core. Also, pen on paper is evocative of writing. Active, like a recorded thought, it’s almost as if it is happening right before your eyes. Perhaps most alluring is the taut humility of drawing, a modest straightforwardness that invariably transcends its final form, no matter how elaborate or contrived.

Add to those descriptors labor-intensive, over-the-top and super-baroque with lots of squiggles, and you’ve got a fail-proof home run on your hands. With this in mind, it would be crazy not to recommend New Work by Emanuele Sferruzza Moszkowicz at the Fallout.

That’s right: Emanuele Sferruzza Moszkowicz. With so many consonants and so little time, the name says it all. That beautiful collection of letters is redolent of the artist’s pen-and-ink drawings, a multitude of exploding shapes and patterns that fill the eye and tickle the imagination. Although flawed to be sure, New Work is unquestionably a drawing bacchanal.

Moszkowicz trained in Italy and Germany, but found his creative voice in Japan. The work hints at archaic traditions of storybook illustration, snatched from the clutches of the past and fully realized smack-dab in the present. Equal parts Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Aubrey Beardsley and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, this is hard territory to cover in a fresh way, but Moszkowicz does it with panache.

He describes his style as “still life … pop-up book,” a fantastical cast of characters crowding and converging in bustling activity. The structure of the drawings is episodic, a wondrous, nightmarish slice of life where ancient swirling succubi dance alongside cartoon-like robots and careening UFOs. Works like the Calvino-esque “Tornado City” and the twistedly quaint “Victorian Pic Nic” parlay the gory delight of old-world fairy tales. These drawings are sweetly scary—things-that-go-bump-in-your-mind scary.

Moszkowicz begins with what he describes as a casting call, selecting the characters for a drawing. A general sketch places the composition, but the body of the drawing is intuitive, inked directly without prior plan or design. Interactions between characters occur organically as pen moves across paper.

If the apparent time spent making something is, in fact, directly proportional to its artistic merit, then Moszkowicz is a genius. The excess of the drawings is delightfully pornographic.

The Details

Emanuele Sferruzza Moszkowicz’s New Work
Three stars
Through September 4, Wednesday-Saturday, noon-4 p.m.
Fallout Gallery, 1551 S. Commerce St., 678-6278.

The show’s prints are another matter. Enlarged versions of the smaller ink renderings, they are monochromatic and … just not as well done. Although purportedly produced by a master printer, the line work is compromised and, in some places, lost completely. Worse, adhesive used for mounting obscures visibility, and, in general, the crisp linear articulation that gives the drawings their sharp edge is rendered fuzzy.

Which leads to the exhibition’s larger problem. The thick, shiny adhesive covering the surface of the prints wouldn’t be as distracting if the pieces weren’t lit with glaring spots. There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to the work’s placement. Some pieces are hung with mismatched clips. And don’t look at the walls—patched spots are left unsanded and sections unpainted. This may seem nitpicky, but details elevate an experience.

The Fallout has had some really solid shows in the recent past, and New Work is another. The gallery is poised to move into a leadership position as one of our best art spaces (if not one of the few). The crowd may be thinning, but it won’t always be this way. We have to keep demanding the best of ourselves and one another, even if that comes down to something so simple as a fresh coat of paint.

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Danielle Kelly

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