Paul Caranicas, Ozone 46 (Mickey’s Gun Shop), 2018, Oil and acrylic on wood, 10 x 50 inches

The balance between content and execution in the paintings of Paul Caranicas is a playground for his humorous and sophisticated sensibility. A wry nonchalance belies the saga of life found within the work. For this review, I chose a painting I find odd, compelling and timely. Titled Ozone 46 (Mickey’s Gun Shop), acrylic on wood, 10 x 50 inches, it’s an extreme horizontal panorama of a gun shop in a roadside mall, utilizing a palette one might find embedded within the 20th to 21st century American psyche.

Caranicas’ compositions are invented concoctions with impossible perspectives and gorgeous textures. They are not ironic despite their intelligence and impossible distortions. An invisible backstory of photoshop and collaged anachronistic elements adds depth and mystery. Born in Greece but raised in Washington D.C. and Chevy Chase, MD., he is a cultural reporter and architectural fantasist.

Paul Caranicas, Ozone 46 (Detail)

I love how he uses vernacular shapes and signage in Ozone 46 to move the eye around while anchoring the viewer into a specific time and place. He shows his process openly, mismatching the patches of too blue sky into rhomboids and ziggurats at each end. He’s condensed a mall into a theatre set, flattening the rich detail into a sort of Greek chorus to serve the dumb central gun shop. Suddenly you realize that this is an invented composition and nothing existed in that form. What’s lurking behind the windows? The gun store seems to be the only “live” element in the picture though the abuse of time glazes the surrounding buildings and grass has grown up through the cracks in the cement. Paint is applied lovingly and expertly. Enormous patience and devotion to process guarantees that, whatever the impression to be had, be it a ruined American landscape or a genuine appreciation for that landscape, no simple answer will suffice.

 

Ruth Marten, Man of the Sea, 2019, Gouache on archival print, 30 x 22 inches

 

A native of NYC, Ruth Marten is preparing for a November show at Van der Grinten Galerie in Cologne, Germany where she had a retrospective at the Max Ernst Museum in Bruhl, ending this year.