Palm Desert, CA
Coda Gallery, January 23-30
This story was featured in the January 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art January 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Artists Giuseppe Palumbo and Mark Bowles are playing with scale and finessing their respective styles for a two-person show opening at Coda Gallery on Saturday, January 23, from 3 to 6 p.m. with an artists’ reception. This show marks Palumbo’s first at the gallery, and his sculpture displayed alongside Bowles’ paintings promises to be a perfect pairing. “Mark’s work is very abstract landscapes, very bright, col-orful, and beautiful. They are not really detailed works. You can look at them from a distance and enjoy them, so while beautiful in themselves, they [also] make a wonderful backdrop for Giuseppe’s sculptures,” says gallery director Barbara Hill-Stanley.
Although he is known for his whimsical animal sculptures, Palumbo has also created a series that conceptualizes the plight of man in steel and cast bronze. His signature piece for this show, entitled DUALITY, comes from this series. “The series speaks to the aspects of life we all deal with. This one references the two sides we have in all our lives,” says the artist. In the work, two figures balance on a linear plane perched on a circle—and for this show, it is presented in monumental size.
His second new piece, THE EDGE, depicts three men walking the edge of a wall. “We often feel that sensation of being ‘on the edge.’ This [piece] speaks to the balance we’re trying to achieve in life,” he says. In these versions of DUALITY and THE EDGE, the male figures are more detailed and representational than his previous forms.
Palumbo also has several of his perennially popular animals, including flying pigs, meditative bulls, and a dancing-sheep chorus line, which, the artist says, is “the piece that I’m most well known for; it’s become nearly iconic. It’s nearly sold out, but I’ll have variations in medium and small sizes,” he says.
Although Bowles customarily paints large-scale works, recent commissions from Kaiser Permanente and requests from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art have inspired him to create even larger pieces for this show. One of his dozen works measures 6 by 10 feet. “That takes up a lot of wall,” Bowles laughs.
In many of Bowles’ works, he introduces the element of time through boxes of light, each depicting a different moment of light on the landscape. In this group of paintings, he’s used more points of time and thus more boxes that capture the landscape from different perspectives. He’s relied on the technique to present new views of California’s Central Valley—the geographic focus of his work in this show, and one very familiar to the Sacramento-based artist. “I like the idea of making a minimal suggestion of the landscape, so you know it’s a landscape, but it’s not defined,” he says. “I drive a lot between the desert and Northern California, so I’m working more with form and color.”
For the past two years, Bowles has been dipping his brush into a warm palette, but his most recent works incorporate more cool hues. “I use color to suggest or define temperature, so the red sky you may see in my paintings really is about a hot summer day. Working back into blue is a little new, so that is challenging. That is what I look to when painting—doing something that makes me learn and not just turn out the same painting over and over,” he says. —Ashley M. Biggers
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