Art Review: Mary DeVincentis’ Work Explores Our Heightened Sense of Mortality: Bushwick Daily

In his new exhibition “Alone In This Together”, now presented at M. David et Cie Gallery, painter Mary DeVincentis expresses the heightened sense of mortality that has resonated throughout the past year of the pandemic. Using mixed media, ranging from flash paint to plastic skeletons, DeVincentis creates poignant narratives drawn from moments of connection, dark humor and hope.

DeVincentis” the works inspired by the previous pandemic “Nowhere To Run To”, exhibited online at M. David and Co Artsy Viewing Room, speculates on the disorienting disorientation felt at the beginning of the quarantine. However, the language of these 15 more recent works imparts a new kind of perspective, as contradictory representations occur simultaneously throughout the works: life and death, despair and hope, isolation and solidarity.

Through the cemetery(Courtesy of Mary DeVincentis)

The diptych “Through the Boneyard,” whose wood panels together measure five feet wide, features a dark, descending nebula shape whose size is accentuated by the scale of two anthropomorphic, winged figures – possibly versions of DeVincentis herself. The feeling that the formation is in transition, rather than floating, is achieved through the weaving of sets of lines etched through the constructed canvas. The matte black shape, made even more formidable by the artist’s use of crackle dough and toy skeletons, extends diagonally from the painting’s upper left quadrant and emerges over its partner panel, suggesting a transition from shape and perspective.

Abandon a ghost

“Giving Up A Ghost” allows for a contemplation on the aging of the human form, which is employed through the literal physicality of the painter’s hair. The fleshy pink edge of the canvas, in which DeVincentis inserts nests of her hair into red spheres of oil paint, acts as the artist’s signature, if not an intimate look at the artist’s psyche. A pale figure is seen curled up and expels a cloud filled with varying sizes of the word ‘me’ that surpasses a monochromatic mess of brushstrokes, while speckled reds bleeding through white strokes hint at the frenzy of death seen during the pandemic.

“’Giving Up A Ghost’ is another understatement for dying, but I wanted to take it a step further and make it more personal,” DeVincentis said. “I thought about letting go of the self and the ego, the demons.”

“To look upward”

Other paintings are more literal in their narration. In the painting “Looking up,”DeVincentis portrays one of his own experiences with life and death; she is seen staring up at the sky and the blossoming trees around her as she stands in Greenwood Cemetery. The painter then plays on the double existence of life and death in his painting ”the gardener, A vision of a dying naked creature planting seeds.

The titular and largest coin, “Alone in this set

The main and larger room, “Alone In This Together, is the most minimal compared to the rest of the works and is essentially unfinished. Broad brushstrokes strike a lonely and tiny figure. A sense of space, which can be seen both formally and narratively, is created as a vibrant teal orb emerges on the canvas. The landscape is a dreamlike, even hallucinatory, interpretation of light and dark, while the background is an abstraction of impending darkness or vice versa.

The works speak to our collective consciousness as we all face physical and emotional isolation, and it is with this in mind that DeVincentis has invited 14 other artists to exhibit alongside him. Some works are simple and figurative, while others are completely abstract using clay or mixed media. As the exhibition unfolds, it is evident that while the works are deeply personal, the themes are universal and allow the viewer to feel connected by the palpable presence of mortality.

“Alone in this set” is on view until November 6, 2021. DeVincentis is represented by M. David and Co. in New York and Gibbons and Nicholas in Dublin, Ireland. His previous exhibitions include “Out There” at M. David and Co. in 2019 and “Dwellers on the Threshold” at David and Schweitzer Contemporary in 2018.

All photos: Vanessa Hock unless otherwise noted.

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