All the World’s a Colosseum at Et Al Projects

Brian Galderisi, Untitled (Fig. 3.2) Courtesy of Brian Galderisi and et al projects, 2013

Have you ever wished you could step into a painting? In Brian Galderisi’s show Colosseum at Et Al Projects, the artist takes the notion of doing so to another level, albeit a creepy one.

Galderisi has previously shown his mixed media collages at the space’s first ever exhibition at 56 Bogart, which typically depict masked or distorted faces, and environments that combine a look and feel of your grandmother’s charming attic full of antique treasures, and your uncle’s eerie “rec room” from the 1970’s. What makes the series of photographs in Colosseum different is that the artist takes his environments a step further, by building 3D spaces that he places himself into dressed as clown-like versions of the characters in his collages.

Brian Galderisi, Untitled (Fig. 5.1) Courtesy of Brian Galderisi and et al projects, 2013

There’s a strong sense of conflict and a “push and pull” element throughout the show. The environments are comprised of objects unique to his style (a monkey mask, a vintage ad for Guinness, an old portrait) and bits and pieces of recognizable themes from modern art and abstract expressionism like bright Matisse inspired cut-outs and play on proportion, an atmosphere reminiscent of circus performers from Picasso’s rose period, and are all peppered with a hint of Francis Bacon-like terror. By referencing the different works, Galderisi pulls viewers into a familiar space, and pushes them away by placing his unconventional character in the room.

Brian Galderisi, Untitled (Fig. 3) Courtesy of Brian Galderisi and et al projects, 2013

This push pull effect continues as we unravel Galderisi’s play on space and confrontation of the viewer, aspects that seem to draw the viewer’s attention while simultaneously making them uneasy. Galderisi plays with our perception of 3D space by combining performance art, sculpture and a 3D environment, with the flatness that comes from printing an image of the piece. Inspecting the mini rooms in the images draws the viewer in, and once confronted by the masked figure staring directly at us, we immediately feel like voyeurs who are interrupting an unusual figure in his private space.

Brian Galderisi, Untitled (Fig. 2.2) Courtesy of Brian Galderisi and et al projects, 2013

While the images are merely depictions of transformed figures and space, they certainly have a grand impact on the gallery’s actual space, so much so that a friend of Bushwick Daily’s literally felt the need to flee the room. While providing visual intrigue and delighting us with the kind of fear, wonder, and amusement you may feel like you are at a carnival “Freak Show” or haunted house, Colosseum is certainly a success in it efforts to transform the viewers perception of their environment and viewer’s emotional response to it.

Brian Galderisi: Colosseum is currently on view at et al Projects through September 30th, at  56 Bogart St., Thurs- Sun 1-6PM

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