By Amanda McLaughlin:
“What is a city,” says William Shakespeare, “but the people?” Perhaps the Bard of Avon had Inkporated–People, Power, & The City in mind when he penned those famous words from his Roman tragedy, Corlianus, for the show is an epic in and of itself. A pen and ink show featuring artists Richard Tomasello and Michael Harmon and opening at 464 Gallery, Inkorporated focuses on a city and its people’s interactions, its power dynamics, and its–sometimes turbulent or pathogenic–vibrancy.
Tomasello’s energetic works have a desperate beauty to them; there is a cathartic quality to the prints: violence made beautiful. Tomasello says that the current show, like his work in recent years, deals with “masculinity, violence and control,” with “abusing power and feeling powerless.” There is a real narrative behind Tomasello’s work; there is a power behind the canvas. In statement, Tomasello articulated the impulse behind his prints:
“The bandaged character in my work is anyone that has felt oppressed, abused, or judged. The rhinoceros horned characters are men that need to prove their masculinity. They are people that can only feel self-worth by humiliating someone else. They are a gang of mindless followers that get off on degrading others. And almost worse than that, they are people that vicariously and voyeuristically sit back and watch and enjoy the pain of others.”
Harmon’s drawings possess a refined regality; there is an austere beauty to the works, and yet they also feel remarkably alive. Harmon’s work is an intersection with nostalgia; an homage to the city’s past glory; while acknowledging the faults of urbanity, the pieces glorify the many layers of the cosmopolitan world, the theatre of our existence. As Harmon writes:
Cities are the pinnacle of the human race. Civilization has always been and always will be ever changing, and the modern city is its stage. The city has always been a place of relief for the loner, a haven for the poet and the artist, and a playground for the politician. All of these characters play into the development of the community. Without the good and the bad the city would not be as layered as it is today. Buffalo, along with other struggling urban areas, are perfect examples of what used to luster, now rusts with dismay. These compositions shed some light on the reasons why we are here today and also display hope that the city can rise again to its original prosperity.
In pieces such as “Common Corruption” and “A Gift of Romance,” Harmon displays the polarity of a city. A break through the binary, Harmon’s drawings seek a new present from the past; they exalt the contradictions of the urban scene.
Inkporated–People, Power, & The City will have an opening reception this Friday, June 17th at 464 Gallery from 6PM-10PM, and will run through Tuesday, June 28th. On Saturday, June 18th, the annual Rediscover Amherst Street Festival will kick off, with live painting with Chuck Tingley and Matt Grote at 464 Gallery. 464 Gallery is located at 464 Amherst Street in Buffalo, in between Elmwood Avenue and Grant Street, and more information can be found by calling the gallery at 716.983.2112. Additional information on the artists can be found at their respective websites, www.richardtomaselloart.com and www.MichaelHarmon.com.