Exhibition Reviews | Visual Arts

Above, Beyond and Within — Joseph Cipro at 814 Gallery

With a collection of abstracts, landscapes, and figurative paintings, Joseph Cipro makes a Salt Lake debut of sorts at 814 Gallery, April 18 through July.

“This show marks my return to the gallery venue and I hope a greater presence in the art environment and in your collections,” says Cipro in his artist statement for the 814 Gallery exhibit. No newcomer to painting or Salt Lake, he has participated in statewide competitions and juried shows over the past 10 years. For much longer – since graduating from Rhode Island School of Design in 1971 – he has painted in 10 countries on three continents.

Cipro’s contemporary landscapes and figure paintings, whether in oils or watercolors, are soft and flowing. One color morphs into another, one shape into the next, with few hard edges. Graphite lines in his watercolor paintings are expressive as well as descriptive but don’t stop the flow of the paint.

In fact, many of his watercolor paintings are done on Yupo, a slick, synthetic paper that allows the paint to puddle and swirl unpredictably. Says Cipro, “It is a challenge to find a balance between vision and control and the expression of the paint flowing out of the brush onto the material, and not necessarily stopping there. It is a form of contemporary impressionism and a way of removing the self from self-expression, at the same time preserving the gestalt.”

Cipro especially enjoys watercolor because it is portable. “It allows me the opportunity to travel with the tools necessary to spontaneously capture and express the places, people, and things I encounter, whether it be on foot, while backpacking in remote areas, on board trains, planes, ships, or motor vehicle.”

Cipro’s figures are loose and gestural, with abstracted shapes in the background that support, rather than distract from the figure. Until recently, he was part of a group of artists who painted the figure weekly in Earl Jones’s studio.

When Cipro is not painting on canvas or paper, he is painting houses. His business, Design for Artful Living, includes restoration, decorative painting, and color consulting. He learned historic renovation while earning his art degree at RISD in Providence, RI. And his fine art background allows him to work with this his clients’ personal styles and color preferences to create expressive environments.

Cipro’s oil paintings show the influence of Gerhard Richter, one of his favorite artists. Larger paintings in this exhibit feature geometric shapes, seen through a veil of soft, linear brush strokes. Though non-objective, the shapes form a kind of deep landscape as one might see through a rain-spattered window. Sky-scapes, and soft landscapes as seen from the sky, are fields of color with minimal objective description.  A viewer could quietly meditate on beauty and life in the presence of Cipro’s paintings.

In fact, Cipro says, “Right now I am trying to identify a new agenda for art, a way to engage people in a more insightful and motivational, yet humble way. Art is ultimately about our collective search for meaning in life. I want to stimulate the desire to connect the important with the common, hopefully in a beautiful way, whether literal or abstract.”

Joseph Cipro’s new works are at Salt Lake City’s 814 Gallery through July. 814 Gallery is hosted by David Richardson, AIA, Hoagland and Co., LLC, and Capitol Hill Construction, LLC and is locate at their offices at 814 East 100 South in Salt Lake. We suggest calling for hours: (801) 533-0204

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