May 10 – June 21, 2014

Longhouse Projects is pleased to present three solo exhibitions: Paul Branca’s Commedia (Nut Delight)Takao Ono’s Summertime Fragment, and paintings by Kimber Smith

For Branca’s first exhibition at the gallery, he presents a new series based on the Commedia dell’arte. Originating in 16th century Italy, Commedia was an improvisational form of theater in which professional actors assumed archetypal roles, distinguished by specific costumes or masks. Each maschere, “mask” in English, embodied a mood definitive of and applicable to one character. There are three main groups: the servants (zanni), the masters (vecchi) and the lovers (innamorati). Branca has chosen to portray a maschere from each group: Arlecchino (also known as Harlequin), Brighella, and Isabella, respectively.  The plays, while providing political commentary and comedic relief, also focused on fundamental themes such as love and tragedy.

The two-panel paintings act as metonyms for the maschere. A cyclical reflexivity of “stand-ins” characterizes certain tropes: the “servant” is impish, entertaining, and eccentric; the “master” is deceptive, cunning, and opportunistic; the “lover” is beautiful and narcissistic. The paintings act as physical euphemisms, and perhaps effigies, of a theatrical humanity.

In addition, the artist will present new tondi and a limited edition bronze nutbar. Branca’s continued investigation of art consumption within the marketplace embeds a sense of self-deprecating humor into the role of the object. 

Paul Branca, b. 1974 Bronx, NY, lives and works in New York. He received his MFA in painting from Bard College, New York. Branca’s has exhibited at The Kitchen, New York; Sculpture Center, New York; Anat Ebgi/The Company, Los Angeles; Kavi Gupta Gallery, Berlin; Golden Parachutes, Berlin; Galeria Sabot, Cluj, Romania; and Galerie West, The Hague, Netherlands. His work has been featured in, Modern Painters, GalleristNY, Art in America, Art Papers, and Flash Art International.

Takao Ono’s exhibition, Summer Time Fragment, will be his first in the United States. Having formal training in the restoration of Italian Renaissance frescoes, Ono’s work is rooted in the techniques and traditions. For this exhibition, he created a series of tronie: six works on paper, three oil and tempera on canvas paintings and one painting on panel. Each face, while individual and distinct, also bears a sense of homogeneity. Ono’s rendering of the Panama hat presents a prop as a distinction of identity.

Throughout Ono’s work is a consideration that everything is an artifact to be documented and captured, from an accessory to the visage. The lack of context within each work, the palette, and the dismembered accouterment evoke a seemingly contradictory relationship between purity and unease.   

Takao Ono, b. 1950 Iwate Prefecture, Japan, lives and works in Bianzano, Italy. He studied at the Instituto Centrale di Restauro di Rome, Italy. His work has been exhibited internationally at the Shiseido Gallery, Tokyo; Miyagi Museum of Art, Miyagi, Japan; The Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki, Ibaraki, Japan; Kunst Galerie Panina, St.Blasien, Germany; Kun Start 10, Bolzano, Italy; and Kunst 09, Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. His work is included in the collections of Shiseido Art House, Shizuoka, Japan; Ikeda Museum of 20th Century Art, Shizuoka, Japan; Yamanaka Lake Museum of Art, Yamanashi, Japan; Ishigami-no-oka Museum of Art, Iwate, Japan; Iwate Museum of Art, Iwate, Japan; and the Miyagi Museum of Art, Miyagi, Japan.

On view will be two large scale paintings by Kimber Smith: Red Smiles, 1973 and Diamonds in Outline, 1960. In these works the diamond shape like that found in the Harlequin’s pattern, and the smile, are painted with spontaneity and out of representational context. The referent shapes detach from an adherence to a relational meaning. They act as signifiers, with various conscious or unconscious meanings, floating on the canvas.