Among the works in Bruno Fazzolari’s recent show at [2nd floor projects] were two of the San Francisco-based artist’s life-size, painted-plaster food sculptures (1996–2002). Something of the deceptive- ness in objects like Hamburger Gate (2002), a pile of ground meat oozing from between buttresses of large standing steaks, carries over into “The Lost Paintings,” also on view, which import into the no-name land of abstraction familiar imagery–sunsets, plaid and camouflage patterns—along with flaglike emblems and writing.
The 15 muted, untitled oils (half of them on paper and half on canvas), intimate and sketchbooklike at mostly 9 by 12 inches, take on one motif per work. The simplest is a sunset consisting of a bump in a burnt orange horizon line that lazily traverses a hazy blue background. In a crudely elegant exegesis on visual perception, the central T-shape that organizes the gray-on-light-gray in another composition variously recalls a view up some stairs, a divided highway and a crucifix. Elsewhere, a fountain of yellow brushstrokes bursts into an otherwise subdued proscenium space.
“Mirror 5,” a show of recent work (2009–10) at Jancar Jones, presented four larger (41-by-29-inch), livelier abstract paintings in primary colors on a fresh white ground. Hung one per wall, they surrounded a bottle of eau de cologne, Five, displayed on a mirror-topped pedestal in the center of the room. Visitors could spray it on, and the cubby-size gallery quickly filled with a sharp citrus fragrance, which the artist had formulated himself. Its scent lingered in the air like afterimages in the mind’s eye.
The paintings feature an array of jotted markings and shapes suspended in space. A discontinuous border of bright blue dashes along each canvas’s edge seems to hold the space back from infinity while also creating a fishbowl effect. Different sized brushes and different kinds of paint application produced marks ranging from the merest fleck, seemingly emerging from deep space, to clusters resembling paw prints and chunkier, stenciled-looking cobblestone patterns. Viewing Mirror 5 (III), covered with small, scattershot marks, is like looking up at a confetti-filled sky.
Gaze long enough at the paintings and their apparent spontaneity gives way to calculation. All the paintings contain the same color-coded shapes, but scale and density vary. For example, Mirror 5 (IV) foregrounds yellow cobblestone, pink stalactite and gray grapelike forms on a nearly empty ground, whereas in Mirror 5 (I) these same elements share the stage with a denser arrangement of red and green tongues.
The series at both galleries pin the viewer between echt painting and odd setup. A brochure accompanying “The Lost Paintings” explains that these works, made “sometime between 2001 and 2004,” had been put away and forgotten. This quasi-mythical backstory, like the eau de cologne, connects paintings to mnemonic triggers and other realms of experience.
Photo: View of Bruno Fazzolari’s exhibition “Mirror 5,” 2010; at Jancar Jones.