John E. Melecsinsky at the Gilbert Gallery, a review by Frank W. Krasicki
The Gilbert Gallery at Miss Porter’s School on 60 Main St. in Farmington, CT is hosting a one-man show of ink drawings, pastels, and paintings from August 27 - September 29. There are 48 pieces on display and they represent a micro retrospective of the work by one of Connecticut and the nation’s finest living Artists.
John Melecsinsky often prefers to be called John Mel by friends and acquaintances and signs his work JEM. He doesn’t care for titles either. The work in the show is numbered but don’t let that fool you. Many of the pieces have a back story that John is willing to share.
John’s pen and ink drawings are simply exquisite and disarmingly sophisticated. The work in this show consists of either flowers or nudes. These are careful studies of flowers aching to bloom, John captures the moment in which these subjects anticipate opening to the world. And John’s pen and ink flowers, like Robert Mapplethorpe's Lily photographs and Georgia O’Keefe’s flower paintings, drip with unspoken, erotic irony. Melecsinsky is a master of line, posture, and a sneaky, subtle abstraction that transforms his subjects ever so imperceptibly. You’ve never seen flowers. This. Way.
When the subject of his pen and ink drawings turns to the human figure the result is even more interesting. All John’s drawings are frugal exercises. The human figure is captured by very few strokes of the pen. And these strokes are ever so lightly drawn - just enough observational detail to capture the ribs, the toes, the magnificent hands, and the contorted husk of body. These drawings embrace minimalist sentiments even as they softly abstract the viewer’s sense of space. These are not always single point of view drawings. Often John’s drawings introduce many individual points of view concatenated together as visually plausible yet impossible visions.
The subject of Melecsinsky’s pastels and oil paintings is often Italian landscape. A long time ago, John was adopted by Florentines and John’s love affair with Italy is in full display in this show. John’s Italian landscapes are to pastels what Degas pastels are to ballerinas. John’s pastel and oil technique is called Divisionism the separation and composition of autonomous dots marks of color that invite the viewer’s eyes to blend the colors - the colors are not mixed on the paper or canvas.
The result is that his pastels shimmer with rare clarity and energy. His landscapes breathe and have a life. And the color effect is breathtaking. The pastels are almost shocking in detail.
Melecsinsky no longer paints. “I just gave it up”, he says with a shrug. The Italian studies in this show were painted decades ago in this same divisionist technique. Yet these oils are strangely beautiful. A number of these paintings exhibit are starkly delineated by incestuous color that curls, twists, and wraps itself within the subject; a garden, a view, or a courtyard. Divisionist paintings look vaguely Pointillistic but are not. By the hands of a master artist Divisionism is more sophisticated than Pointillism. These paintings are unusual that way. These pieces belong to an art history yet to be written, an American art retrospective yet to be curated.
Included in the show are works that date back to Melecsinsky’s formative years as a young artist. It’s a show that illustrates a process of artistic growth and exploration through maturity
and now the peaceful bliss of line drawing and pastel. John is often a gallery sitter on weekends at the Art League of New Britain where he quietly works on the more painstakingly detailed works surrounded by the artwork of Connecticut’s emerging art scene. For art lovers who care to meet the artist, he will engage you in enjoying the art in the gallery or relating tales of his latest yearly visit to Florence, Italy.
The reception that was held on September 22, attracted a large, wonderful mix of patrons that included many fellow artists, friends, art lovers, and visionaries.
Miss Porter’s School website is: www.porters.org and you can call the Visual Arts Department for Gallery visiting hours: 860.409.3701. The Art League of New Britain website is: http://www.alnb.org .