Art New England Review: Alfred DeCredico—Dissecting Chaos

Exhibition Review by David Raymond
Art New England
January/February 2010
Reviews: Massachusetts
Thompson Gallery at Cambridge School of Weston • Weston, MA • • Through March 12, 2009

The paintings and drawings of Alfred DeCredico are organic gardens squirming with the wormy texts of an introspective modernism. Image invention is dependent on a dialogue of hand and materials. DeCredico's art is the kind that builds form as mass, as line, as pattern only to be revisited as scrape, scratch, and rebuild.

The exhibition in the Thompson Gallery, although modest in size, is a fine sampling of works from the last twenty-five years, giving evidence of an extraordinary vision. An early drawing from 1985, Critter, serves as a key image to understanding the overall work. The critter of the title is a small black smudge of an animal resting on a round platform in a grassy space. The drawing is not especially yielding of any narrative; it simply achieves the meaning of inexplicability.

After that, DeCredico's images take on the fecundity one finds in Joan Miró and Arshile Gorky with a distant echo even of Hieronymus Bosch. DeCredico is an artist of torrent, flood, muck, and decay. Although his work can be spare—Untitled is a drawing of a kind of cup in darkly blue and gray space that is serene, silent, and naked—his large painting La Mensa: Abicus is a heroic explosion. The painting is an aggregate of sweet and lurid pinks and browns with attached fragments of wood, antler, and a sleek fluorescent light bulb that antagonizes its environment with its cool shimmer. This is one of those rare paintings that is worth hours of attention and certainly worth a trip to this gallery.
But this is not a one-pony show. The drawings, really paintings, are full of the kind of drawing and mark-making that is so confident and so willing in its visibility that the viewer is pulled in. Once inside there are discoveries of familiars—here a simple penis drawing, hair, vagina, hands, or mergers of such forms. Patterns grow from patterns and dissolve into new inventories of impulse. DeCredico is the master of the tic, the incident that itches, the scratch and the bite of feeling one's way. Fortunately this earthy way-finding is available without a heavy-handed authorship. DeCredico's work has a look, but not a mannered packaging of style. The images are generously informing with nothing withheld.

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