exhibition of paintings and watercolors by New York artist Carmen
Cicero, works filled with mystery, satire and edgy images of life,
will open at the June Kelly Gallery on Friday, March 6. The
exhibition will remain on view through April 7.
exhibition, entitled Early Works: 1970s-1980s, reveals
Cicero’s tensions and agitation as bare and unsugarcoated truth.
He combines pointed candor with comic apparitions that reflect his
reverence for life’s veracities and vagaries, his obsession with
storytelling, and the humor he finds in our lives.
Cicero’s art has been on the cutting edge for more than 40 years.
He arrived in New York in the early 70s after a devastating fire
that destroyed his studio in Englewood, NJ. He lost all of his
canvases, press clippings and other records in the flames, but he
was able to begin again in his
new loft on the Bowery. The Bowery, then an even grittier
neighborhood than it is today, was filled with flophouses and bums
and was New York’s "Skid Row.”
began to formulate his ideas into new themes from which he produced
colorful, manic paintings, like giant drawings of comic book pages.
The paintings are deeply personal, yet enigmatic, and expose the
surreal alliances that he postulates among his subjects, replete
with double entendres. The results are original, quirky and
hypnotic. He brings a remarkable
inventiveness to his work, and his symbolism stirs a sense of
mystery and foreboding. He gives fresh evidence of his
creative vitality in this exhibition.
Cicero’s use of humor with frankness is coupled with his search for
deeper meaning. His tone and spirit produce eerie quietude and
stinging bluntness but also create mystery and curiosity for an
explanation for these unusual and strange happenings.
is master storyteller with his commentaries about life, as shown in
his oversize canvas entitled The Surprise in the Window,
1981, in which guests at a party are horror struck when a caped
figure in white outline appears against the dark skies in the window
of a penthouse apartment. Or, in Crime, 1976, in which
Cicero’s thick maze of colorful lines gives us an angry figure with
a knife who seems to offer no way to avoid a figurative or literal
onslaught. These evocative scenarios are painted with Cicero’s
meticulous detail with color, line and careful brushstrokes.
There is a suspension of emotion, as if one were waiting for a turn
native of New Jersey, Cicero holds a BA from Newark State Teachers
College and an MFA from Montclair State. He lives in New York
City and Truro on Cape Cod. He is also an accomplished jazz
work is represented in numerous public, corporate and private
collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of
Modern Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of
American Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture
Garden, Newark Museum, Montclair Museum of Art, National Academy
Museum, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, MA; West Publishing
Company, St. Paul, MN; and Musei Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam,
Carmen Cicero received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the
Provincetown Art Association and Museum. A recent monograph,
The Art of Carmen Cicero was published in 2013 by Schiffer
Publishing in Atglen, PA.