The Elizabeth Harris Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition devoted exclusively to Victor Pesce's "faces," a rarely exhibited group of vibrant and beguiling paintings. These extraordinary works were created in two basic periods, both high points in the artist's career―from the early to mid 1980s while residing in New York City; and a more recent series of "faces," which he produced in his Connecticut studio from the mid 1990s through the mid 2000s. Victor Pesce is perhaps best known for his captivating still-life oil paintings. These works feature novel color relationships and spatial experiments in tightly organized compositions that propose a subtle merger of quasi-Cubist spaces and a unique form of Metaphysical painting often associated with the work of Italian artist Giorgio Morandi. In the less frequently shown "faces," Pesce explores similarly eclectic, compressed and eccentric spaces, as well as an always surprising and unorthodox palette.
Intimate in scale, Pesce's "faces" are archetypal images, and haunting, anonymous presences. Yet each implies a unique individual who can appeal to the viewer on a personal level. The earlier series of more abstract "faces" has an almost art brut intensity. Rendered in hyper-energetic brushstrokes and brilliant color, they harbor a deeply personal psychological exploration. The later, more recent paintings are densely layered images frequently culled from newspaper photos. Sometimes these tight close-ups of faces are those of individuals associated with headlines of the day; several are victims of domestic terror, acts of violence, or some personal tragedy. All of Pesce's "faces" convey a deep emotional resonance; they touch upon socio-political concerns while offering a quiet meditation on the profound volatility of everyday life. As critic David Ebony notes in the catalogue essay for this exhibition, Pesce is a "painter's painter," whose "faces" address issues of the moment while they encompass a broad range of art-historical allusions, from ancient Egyptian Fayum funereal portraits to the works of Cézanne, and Cubist portraiture.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog with an essay by David Ebony.