On the First Friday in April, Russ Gerard, owner of Gurari Collections whose standard for measuring the timelessness of work is exacting, proudly exhibited the work of Vico Fabbris, the recipient of two Mass Cultural Council Awards in painting. The gallery was crowded with work that spans decades and with people who were fully engaged in looking.
Fabbris was born in Italy and has come to the US clutching an MFA from L'Accademia di Belle Arti, in Florence. Apart from his stringent painting practice, he is also a senior lecturer at Suffolk's New England School of Art and Design. The man knows things. He explains his work with the same passion that drove him to make it. His subject: botanicals of exquisite intricacy that do not exist in nature, but in his mind.
According to Fabbris, "when I was a young boy I listened to the radio. It was a show about plants that no longer live and the announcer said that ten plants a month become extinct for one reason or another somewhere in the world." He pauses, and then continues with this comment: "It made me incredibly sad and I started to draw, with a pencil, all the plants that I have never seen and would never see."
Every inch of the gallery is covered with mostly watercolors but also included are a few oils, pastels and graphite renderings of mysterious plants that he laboriously wrote fictitious Latin descriptions of. There are a variety of sizes, but the largest ones are painted on two sheets of Fabriano Artistico paper whose deckled edges have been lovingly glued together.
He continues, "I am worried about all the plants that are dying every day, plants that we will never know because of damage to the environment. I make this work to feel the sadness and maybe replace the real plants with those of my imagination."
There are pieces that are based on the human body, like Anguillaria, an image of the human cortex that is growing from the earth.Gnina Escondita includes the image of a tree that is shaped like Boticelli's Venus. Fabbris' favorite is Philantus Contortus, a beautiful rendering of a curling plant that he drew with graphite material that he ground down from twigs.
When assessing his work, one can't help but feel Fabbris’ sincere concern, the attempt to save something, something that has been destroyed by an inexplicable force. But while Fabbris is working from a place of loss, the weird, wonderful, bizarre, phallic, sensuous and suggestive plant life that he generates from the soil of his imagination is playful and humorous. They are about life force. He says, " . . . flowers HAVE to bloom, they are unstoppable. I am amazed to see tiny shoots that push their way through rocks because they want to live. This is what I want to talk about in my art."
"Floralies - Vico Fabbris" is on view from April 2nd - May 2nd, 2010 at Gurari Collections."
All images are courtesy of the artist and Gurari Collections..