Michael Fattizzi at the Doghouse Gallery
RAYMOND J. STEINER
“PAINTING AND PRINTS” — the title of Michael Fattizzi’s latest showing at the Doghouse Gallery* — offers little indication of what awaits the viewer who wanders through the several separate rooms set aside for its venue. I am not positive as to how many pieces comprise the entire show (one gallery alone had thirty-five works) — perhaps too many to form a lasting impression of any one print or painting — but be assured that in their total impact, one can hardly come away without the sense that one has just been immersed in the creative world of a magister ludi. Though a sense of openness often implies artlessness on the one so characterized, there is little of the “artless” in Fattizzi’s unaffected expansiveness to the business — or play, for it is a sense of sheer joy for the sake of ‘doing’ that seems to lie at the heart of his art — of image-making. When I use the word “play”, I by no means imply that there is a lack of seriousness here — a glance at Fattizzi’s proficiency in a wide range of mediums tells the story of an artist who knows his craft. Indeed, one need only watch the concentrated efforts of a child learning the rules of a new game or glance at the salaries of ballplayers to see how seriously our diversions can be taken — and Fattizzi is nothing if not an earnest player. Rather, I mean to call attention to the adventurous manner in which Michael Fattizzi approaches the act of the creative process, since it appears that he is more often involved in the making of his art rather than concentrating on the product that results. A ‘finished’ product, in fact, often seems to be far from Fattizzi’s intent. One finds, for example, the same motif — say, a grape arbor or a hanging drapery — approached in a variety of ways: at times from a different viewpoint, at others realized in a new way in the same medium, or even in a new medium altogether.
Moving about the gallery one notice s Fattizzi “quoting” himself over and again — but doing so in a slightly different fashion, as if by giving viewers multiple views of the same motif he is giving them a fuller understanding of the thing represented. Thus, you might find a subject rendered in black and white re-interpreted in reverse (in the manner of a photographic negative); or restated in an entirely different form or medium. What is painted as a single canvas at one time might be seen in the form or a dip- or triptych alongside the original — if indeed the single canvas was the original concept. Fattizzi’s imaginative eye seems to want to “see” it all — and see it all is precisely what he seems to be doing as he manipulates his subject, taking it through as many transformations as his imagination carries him. It is by “playing” with the different mediums — paintings, linocuts, monoprints, pastel, pen and inks, aquatints, and even mixed media — that his true interests (and artistry) come across. This is not to say that an individual work — a painting or a print — cannot and does not stand on its own as a bona fide artwork. However, it was not until this viewer “let go” of his usual pondering of each individual work to discern a pattern in the artist’s intent and allowed himself to be immersed in a “wall” of images that the impact of viewing process rather than product took firm hold. Once free of the limitations of focus, I began to “feel” rather than “see” Fattizzi’s special and unique talent of revealing the ultimate “truth” about visual phenomena: namely that there is no single viewpoint from which we “ought” to view the world. Michael Fattizzi, paintbrush/baton in hand, composes his own visual symphony of imagery by whimsically showing us his own “variations on a theme”. In Platonic terms, our world is one of a constant “becoming” and never, ever one of static “being” — in other words, the universe is a process and not a finished product. “Paintings and Prints” thus instructs as it delights — and that is no mean feat for an artist. Extended for an additional month, this ought to give you plenty of time to drop in for your own insights into the inventive mind of Michael Fattizzi.
*Michael Fattizzi: Paintings and Prints (thru October): Doghouse Gallery, 429 Phillips Road, Saugerties, NY (845) 246-0402.