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Joseph Marioni, whose irrepressibly emotional paintings hang in the McNay’s Stieren Gallery in the ARTMATTERS 13 — Joseph Marioni: Liquid Light exhibition (October 22, 2008 - January 18, 2009), is a cheerful soul with an axe to grind. Impishly, but with a sense of real urgency, he refutes the sometimes hastily bestowed title of Minimalist that critics so often append to abstract meditations on color, and instead opts for identifying his layered acrylic works with the deliberate conventions of portraiture (seriously—the canvases are oriented vertically, as in classical portraiture, rather than horizontally, which is more common in landscape) and the meditative, Transcendental, limpid light-love of Turner.

Unlike most minimalists, for whom the Object and its integrity form a sort of meta-dialogue about art values and, say, mechanization, Marioni resists even that much implied narrative. His paintings don’t tell a story, or rebuke, or stand for anything but themselves — they’re “about,” simply, what happens between eye and brain when light stream towards us through yellowness or pulsate through us within a glowing window of red, and the delicate human touches left by Marioni’s exuberant roller technique, the resulting drip marks and barely perceptible hatch marks, the peeking through of one layer of color through another.


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