Christine Palamidessi, Galatea Fine Art Opening, February 7, 2020
Icons & Talismans
Written by Marjorie Kaye
Once in a while one comes across an exhibition whose layers run so mysteriously deep, that the investigation into the meaning of the work continues long after having been immersed in it. Christine Palamidessi’s Icons & Talismans is one of those shows. Hers is a multi-media search for the artist’s roots, her “soul retrieval”, as she describes it. Inspired by her travels to Salento, which is in the southernmost region of Puglia in the very southern tip of the heel of Italy, the artist centers her imagery on the saints and icons particular to that area. Although Palamidessi’s ancestral line belongs to the north of Italy, there are certain aspects of Salento that call to her; she finds that the symbolism rapt in the characterizations of the saints is universal, the frescoes representing our “tumbling through time”, where questions of searching and belonging are answered.
Christine Palamidessi, Butterscotch Madonna, Monotype Mixed Media and Text, 24 in. x 22 in.
Throughout the exhibition, the imagery of Mother and Child is encountered in a myriad of forms. This is particularly meaningful for the artist, experiencing life’s turning points with both her daughter and her own mother. She relates deeply and emotionally to the concept of “home”, both personal and universal, which she believes is lost in our present experience. She feels that the past can be understood and restored to exist in the present, and that only through our understanding of where we came from can we approach the present with clarity and wisdom. Her monotypes and castings are a testament to ancestral memory; her modern day icons of computer castings a testament to our present – a cornucopia of communication and intent.
In Butterscotch Madonna, Palamidessi visits the iconography of Mother Mary and the Christ-child. Large planes of saturated color reminiscent of natural pigments, broadly brushed, utilize purity of form to convey an emotional dialogue. Both mother and child stare straight ahead; they could be a mother and child on the subway, waiting for a bus, sitting at the kitchen table. Through the domestic we are instantly connected with the sacred aspect of ourselves; love is present in the Eye of the Mother and the Child, extending to us all, making our way through our daily lives. These paintings make us consider how seldom we consider the reverence in our every action.
Christine Palamidessi, Casaranello’s Saint Barbara, Monotype Mixed Media and Text, 24 x 22 in.
Casaranello’s Saint Barbara depicts one of the most celebrated saints of the Salento region. In the artist’s words this saint is “an internationally famed miracle-working saint and protector against noxious animals, thunder and lightning, jaundice (thought to be caused by rainbows), and sudden death”. And she is the “patron of armorers, artillerymen, architects, mathematicians, miners and the Italian Navy”; and explosions. This saint relates to present day experience, obviously in the world around us; but one wonders if this is of a deeper meaning – one relevant to the destruction of old pathways and the formulation of a clarified and more universally beneficial future. The artist depicts this saint throughout the exhibition, and there is a personal as well as collective reference.
Christine Palamidessi, Talisman #10, Mixed Media on Plaster, 14 x 33 in.
There are several groupings of plaster castings, talismans of antiquity. These pieces could be relics removed from their origins.Talisman #10 is a casting of a chest that alludes simultaneously to a breastplate. This particular piece is comprised of the painting of a hand amidst the dots that make up what appears to be armor. There is uncanny strength in the delicate nature of the material, and a subtle suggestion of taking up arms. It speaks to vulnerability and its inevitable consequence of courage – attributes of the human spirit passed on generationally.
Palamidessi depicts the loss of human connection in her castings of various computer parts and keyboards. The titles are humorous, remarking on the absurdity of our present-day iconography: XBonnie Icons Converse, (Patron of Paperless Transactions); Wolfe’s Keyboards, (Patron of Engineering Spreadsheets); Rogers and Out Icon, (Patron of Packaging and Branding); and Once Upon a Time We Used to Talk to Each Other, (Patron of Social Media).The artist references an evolution in what we see as worthy in our experience.The Icon has become the Idol once again.
Christine Palamidessi: Icons & Talismans: February 5-March 1, 2020. Visit Galatea Fine Artat 460 Harrison Avenue, #B-6, Boston, MA 02118, 617-542-1500. Gallery hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 12-5pm and by appointment.