Liquid Light at the Museum of Art
by Bryan C. Kuriawa
Painter Joseph Marioni’s newest exhibit, “Notations,” opened November 14 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Presented in the Alter Gallery, this showcases 12 paintings from the preceding 15 years.
Marioni, 72, has been recognized as the principal practitioner of “Radical Painting.” Under this ideal, the act of painting is the artist’s primary objective, stressing sensation over information. In such a context, a picture narrative is abandoned to give the viewer an alternate experience.
“What we are beginning to realize is that when we have achieved the full realization of an actualized painting, when we have stripped away all the worldly decor of the day, and come to look upon the unadorned flesh of its body—just paint on canvas—what we see emanating from its body is dematerialized light,” Marioni said in his artist statement. “The material reveals the immaterial, and the great paradox of our modernity is our expectation that it should be something other than what it is.”
Marioni’s works are known for their multi-layered, yet ultimately single-colored paintings. This is accomplished by applying several layers of acrylic paint upon one another. Categorizing them as “Real Paintings” dedicated to objectness rather than objecthood, adds to the background of the piece. In his career, Marioni portrays the essence of painting that involves the carrying of pigment, which carries light. Marioni dubs this element of his art as “Liquid Light” and feels it maintains a philosophical context.
“Our eyes and brain have not developed enough for us to recognize light, we don’t recognize light” Marioni said. “What we recognize is the object that the light is reflected off of. The light has to divide into its components in order for us to see it, so our consciousness doesn’t recognize the light itself in the pure form. It recognizes what I call the children of the light, the angels of the God of light. We have the most mundane names for them; we call them green, yellow, red and blue.”
As for painting, Marioni feels it will be replaced as an art form. In this transformation, film-making will become the dominant art form in the United States. Similarly, this will result in a change of cultural centers from America’s East Coast to the West.
This exhibit marks Marioni’s first time with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He was previously featured in Philadelphia at the Larry Becker Contemporary Art Gallery on two occasions.
In his private time, Marioni has been developing a works on paper exhibit for the Cincinnati Art Museum in Ohio. The exhibit, which spans 50 years, is tentatively set for 2017.
Despite his new exhibit, Marioni has set to limit himself in terms of future exhibits domestically and internationally.
“This exhibition took a year and a half to organize. I have some exhibitions in Europe, but I’m not that interested in a doing a lot at this point. I’m at that stage in my life where I’m independent of the art world, so when an opportunity like this comes up, I want to do it because this is a very important venue to show my work.”
While he is interested in concentrating on works for private collections, public reactions to Marioni’s exhibit have been positive.
“Paintings by Joseph Marioni are equally intoxicating as they are illuminating,” Tina Bradford, a writer from Bethlehem Pennsylvania, said. “Most convincing are his large canvases that quietly pull one into a world of glorious light filled mono-chromatic color. The effect is a welcome retreat. Marioni, I believe, is one of the most significant contemporary artists living today.”
“Notations” by Joseph Marioni will be on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art until May 22, 2016. Marioni is also featured in a recently published catalogue, “Joseph Marioni: Works on Paper,” available on www.amazon.com.
For more information, visit Mr. Marioni's website at http://home.tiac.net/~marioni/
Photography by Anthony Muccigrossi