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Thursday, May 16, 2013
Robert Minervini art at Electric Works through June 28, 2013
When pondering a title for his solo exhibition, "After Glow: As the Wick Burns," Robert Minervini recalled, "Sa squagghiate la cer,"a phrase that his relatives in Italy exchange with his immediate family when their visits end in Molfetta, a town on the coast of the Adriatic sea, and before they return home to the United States.
"The latter part of the title, 'As the Wick Burns,' is a poetic adaption of a familial saying. I'm a first-generation Italian American; my mother and father were born in Italy and their native language is Molfettese," says Minervini, 31. "It translates roughly to 'the candlewick is about to burn out.' I thought it was a nice nod in terms of a personal connection and it's something that isn't very common to an English saying. It's sort of romantic, and it's very Puglia. The 'After Glow' is descriptive of the paintings and alluding to a sense of timing, both referring to the fading of sunlight, twilight, and to a sense of time as well."
"As the Wick Burns," (2013) by Robert Minervini. Courtesy of the Electric Works Gallery.
"It came to me because it's a specific way to talk about the content of the work without it being overly politicized." Minervini says. "These (species) are fading out, and even with the work themselves, the plants and animals are transparent and done in layers, as if they are fading out."In the show, through more than a dozen floral still life acrylic paintings and a group of graphite drawings, the artist depicts several of California's endangered plant and animal species. Since these particular flora and fauna are on the verge of extinction, he references vanitas paintings by Dutch Masters in his works but sets them in contemporary windows backdropped by cityscapes and high rise buildings.
"United by Fate," (2013) by Robert Minervini. Courtesy of the Electric Works Gallery.
In small- to large-scale works including "As the Wick Burns," "United by Fate," "The Waning Light," and "Rhizomatistic," the viewer searches through the flowers, plants, insects, reptiles, amphibians and small mammals to spy a California tiger salamander, a California condor and more.
"The Waning light," (2013) by Robert Minervini. Courtesy of the Electric Works Gallery.
"I work preedominately with acrylic paint, and I use a variety of techniques. It's a combination of hand brushing, complicated stenciling, acrylic spray paint and acrylic airbrush," says Minervini, a resident of San Francisco who's currently in the middle of a residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Neb. "Sometimes I glaze on a little bit of oil painting as well. I'm interested in complicating or abstracting the composition of the paintings to create a semi-impervious, semi-illusionistic space."
The pieces also continue the artist's use of floral still life paintings, landscapes, and utopian and dystopian cityscapes as vehicles to exploring the ways in which contemporary society environmentally impacts the landscape.
After Glow: As the Wick Burns: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. Through June 28. Electric Works Gallery, First floor, 1360 Mission St., S.F. (415) 626-5496. www.sfelectricworks.com.