Lino Tagliapietra is in his 80s, but his age has not been able to diminish his vitality and joy of life, a fact which is mirrored in his exuberant glass sculptures which opened in his solo show entitled Celebrazione! at the Heller Gallery* in Chelsea this past Thursday. Neither abstract nor representational, these sculptures are in the creative middle-ground between imagination and reality. Some have long, graceful necks, as noble as the necks of swans, others have elliptical bodies that look like raindrops or almonds, and still others are low and cylindrical. Tagliapietra delights in bright colors, and frequently experiments with fanciful color combinations and patterns. He also appears to take great interest in texture, and many sculptures have intriguing combinations of matte and glossy finishes. The combination of his sculpture’s graceful forms, dynamic coloring and, most of all, immaculate craftsmanship, make for a simply beautiful collection of sculptures. It is enjoyable to see art which is so delightful, so happy, so celebratory. The evident hard work and careful planning which was put into their production does not overpower their elegance and allure. The artist was clearly happy and excited about his work, and it is a delight on the part of the viewer to take part in this excitement. However, the extreme delicacy of the sculptures creates a tangible tension too, one which was most likely unintentional but nonetheless makes it difficult to entirely give into the exuberance which the pieces preach, for fear of shattering one of these beautiful works. Each must exist in the world entirely alone, literally untouchable. In a way, this ultimately gives them a mystical essence, like an icon or reliquary in a Medieval Church, these sculptures must be admired and understood from a distance. Therefore, their infectiously spirited, buoyant personality is one which solicits adherence. Thus, Tagliapietra actively shares his joy and elation with all who see his work.
*Lino Tagliapietra’s solo show Celebrazione!
Is on view at the Heller Gallery, 303 10th ave,
From June 3rd to July 15th