A new gallery has opened on Sag Harbor’s Main Street, and while there’s certainly an “Americana” style present via the village’s architecture, a bit of Italy has also made its home in this new venue. (Gallery Director Nina Frand compares the ambience to Rome’s Via Condotti.) Called Galleria Della Lupa (meaning “Gallery of the Wolf” and alluding to Rome’s founding), the setting will host a summer-long exhibit by Giancarlo Impiglia, a transplanted Italian artist who has resided here with his family since the early 1980s.
Yet the work does not primarily reflect traditional Italian culture and history, even though Impiglia had a penchant for non-mainstream art movements during the 1960s in Italy. Rather, his endeavors now represent contemporary American values, and by extension, political/social commentary. Impiglia’s signature pieces with figures of affluent couples lined up in a row are eye-catching for sure, but look again. They are faceless and avoid looking at each other. Such non-verbal aspects are among the salient factors that convey Impiglia’s theme of indifference and distancing (although the men and women stand close to each other).
Simply put, the couples may seem to constitute a group, but we get the idea that they are really separate individuals, living in their own private worlds. Another piece showing nightlife in New York is characteristically festive and energetic like all of Impiglia’s works; this time, however, the subjects represent a mixture of different ethnic groups. Even so, the people are faceless and not making contact with each other.
Impiglia paints single couples and lone figures as well, but the message is the same. Consider “Guests” and “After Dinner” (not part of the exhibit) where a man and woman engage in social activities, but they still seem alienated from each other and the setting. Even his single figure, “Madison & 57th Street,” (also not shown) seems out-of-kilter. That same demeanor is noticeable in another single figure, a poster for the 2010 World Cup South Africa. The player is flipped upside down trying to catch a soccer ball. This time the dynamics of movement are especially significant while in other pieces, the figures are static and posed, illustrating their artificial and stagnant lives.
Clothing joins the mix of non-verbal factors (positioning, facial gestures and eye contact). The attire is eloquent, colorful and chic. But the gowns and suits are also barriers to revealing the people underneath; they are masks hiding the real human beings.
These “costumes” are not always contemporary, however. For example, “Emperor’s Ghost” is a portrait of an ancient warrior, complete with his conventional uniform. A swatch of painted camouflage signifies a subtle visual pun denoting that the figure’s clothing is hiding his real self.
Besides non-verbal elements, Impigia’s style also adds to his signature work: a combination of Cubism, Italian Futurism and Art Deco. We can also see influences of geometric abstraction in the hard-edged and graphic configurations where drawing skills are important. That hard-edge (right-angle) style is significant, another indication of the artist’s theme that humans are unbending and inflexible. Message and style become one in Impiglia’s art.
Galleria Della Lupa, 150 Main Street, Sag Harbor. Call 631-899-4533.