This article originally appeared on Phantasmaphile.com
El Gato Chimney’s wild works first caught my eye last year in Stephen Romano Gallery’s witchcraft themed group show, In Missa Interfectionis. I was charmed by the ways in which he seemed to mash up zoological fables with alchemical iconography, and paint with an exacting eye reminiscent of the old masters. Happily, his solo show, De Rerum Natura, opens at the gallery next week on Thursday, March 5th, and will be up through April 30th. Even more happily, I was invited to be one of the three essayists for the catalog, alongside the illustriousMartin Wittfooth and Michaela D’Acquisto. I can’t wait to celebrate at the opening next Thursday night, and see these new pieces in person. There is such delight in not only basking in their vividness, but in attempting to decode them.
As I wrote in my essay:
Upon first glance at a work of his, one is greeted by a tapestry of animals and symbols that flirt with the viewer, batting esoteric eyelashes, inviting interpretation. Each piece looks like a page from a tome that’s part alchemical manuscript, part bestiary, and their yellowed borders enhance the effect. Symbols from various mystic systems float in space. Scraps of Latin flutter in the foreground. These paintings are hieroglyphic. They beg to be read.
And who wouldn’t want to know their stories? Who wouldn’t want to be regaled with tales about fauna festooned in ceremonial garb, in scarlet masks, perched on trees and mountain peaks? Who wouldn’t want to hear the one about the burro in the boat, burdened with a back full of clay vessels and a hat that’s a house on fire? Or the one where the decapitated rooster with a devil in his chest grips a key in its serpentine tongue?
The trouble is – the pleasure is – that as these images nuzzle our consciousness, they resist precise translation.
Some more information about the artist, and the show:
Stephen Romano Gallery is proud to present DE RERUM NATURA, Italian artist EL GATO CHIMNEY’s first one person exhibition in the United States.
El Gato Chimney was born in 1981 in Milan, where he lives and works.
He started his career as a self-taught artist, developing an early interest in graffiti that made him pursue a successful journey into street art, as evidenced by his presence in leading publications on the subject.
As the years went by, thanks to the acquisition of new knowledge and the need to continuously improve his technical skills, the artist began to prefer to work in his studio, dedicating his time to an introspective research to depict immaterial things, such as emotions and inner visions.
Currently, El Gato Chimney’s studies range over a wide variety of subjects, such as alchemy, ancient and modern art, magic, mirabilia, occultism, popular folklore, primitive art and spiritualism.
He has shown in many international art fairs, galleries and museums, including the Museo Della Permanente, Milan; the Milan Triennale; Antonio Colombo Contemporary Art, Milan; MADRE Museum Of Contemporary Art, Naples; Stephen Romano Gallery, New York City; the Musei Capitolini-Centrale Montemartini, Rome.
His works are included in a number of international publications, such as Hi-Fructose; Huffington Post; Hunt & Gather: Discovering New Art, Mark Batty Publisher, 2010; Los Colores Del Underground, Astiberri, 2009.
For his show at Stephen Romano Gallery, the artist proposes to further investigate the themes dear to him in a new body of works, including paintings, large-format watercolors on paper, and a site-specific installation.
I do hope you’ll join us at the opening next Thursday, March 5th from 6-9pm, or visit the show while it’s up through April. Prepare to be intrigued and illuminated by these beguiling creatures.