Saturday, January 28, 2012

Gil De Meza @ HCC Ybor Gallery

View of Gil De Meza's show.

Gil De Meza is a retired Professor Emeritus from University of Tampa. He has mentored some of our best artists and gallery owners during his career.  At a gallery talk I had the pleasure of speaking with Gil at length. He remarked that he grew up just a few blocks from where the show was held at the HCC Performing Arts Building Art Gallery, run by Carolyn Kossar.

Gil De Meza, "Requiem for the Boy with the Green Hair"

"The Boy with the Green Hair" is not just part of the title of this work, it is also that of a 1948 movie. The tale of a war orphan whose hair turns green, and who realizes his predicament and that of the world, which is about to go to war again. He is torn between shaving his hair, being silent and leading a normal life, or warning people about the horrors of war. If you look carefully, you see horizontal lines from edge to edge of the work. There's five lines and four spaces. Sound familiar? Just like the stave lines of musical notation. Gil told me music is where a big part of his inspiration comes from. Gil plays the trumpet. This work goes back to his childhood, to the days before WWII. De Meza's work are nothing if not richly textured at many levels. There's a speaker near the center just above the bottom edge, which the artist told me is a reference to the many air raid drill sirens that were tested routinely.

[Remember the nuclear attack siren drills? Crawling under your desk to try to survive a 30 megaton nuke?]  

Side view of the painting above

On the left is a side view of Requiem for the Boy with the Green Hair. Note the textures, door stop, and many coat hooks, and the aforementioned speaker at the bottom. Why? These are things that are found in the interior of a house, in private spaces. Although the painting surface is open, these are a reminder that we are looking at an interior space. These things also stop doors, imposing limits, and let us hang our coats, our covering, assumed identity.

On the right is a close-up of the upper edge of the work. There's this longish bundle, made of canvas tied up with string. Canvas like that found in a tent. Another allusion to war. The rivets could be interpreted as bullet holes, De Meza told me.

Then there's this hook on the side of the frame, from which dangles a bloody-looking bundle, looking like a dead fetus. The death of innocence? Peace? Childhood? This reminds me a lot of a sculpture by Michael Massaro titled Sinew of Indifference [Link]. Also, see the lighter color of the paint cutting in from the edge? That's the military olive drab of the day. This dark mixed-media work is part anti-war  protest, and a reminiscence of the awakening of a boy who would later become an artist.

On the left is "A Conversation with the Imposter, Remington Knollwood", by De Meza. The artist has no problem going above and beyond the surface of the paint and its frame edges.On the right is a close-up of the same work. There's repeating dualities in this work. The formal tensions between them serve to energize the work. While a lot of De Meza's work looks very abstract, many of them have some back-narratives.

Gil De Meza, "Pretty Woman".

Gil casually mentioned that in "Pretty Woman", the hex heads on the bolts are like nipples.

On the left is a close-up of the work above, so its textures and subtle colors can be appreciated. On the right is a close-up of the egg that lies on the upper edge of the frame. It could be taken as a symbol of fertility, and more, but the artist says he got a good deal on several of them.

There were many other strong works in this show, which is now closed, but I hope the above help to give a hint of the depth and breadth of De Meza's mixed media works. Congratulations to Gil De Meza, thanks for taking the time to talk with me, and to Carolyn Kossar for a very good show.

--- Luis

No comments:

Post a Comment