seraphin gallery, philadelphia, art gallery, fine art, contemporary art, phillip scarpone
Seraphin Gallery is pleased to welcome Phillip Scarpone to Philadelphia. Scarpone recently accepted an artist-in-residence fellowship at the University of Delaware and graduated this year with a Masters of Fine Arts degree with distinction from the University of Georgia. He is a multidisciplinary artist, focusing primarily on sculpture and installation, creating conceptual work that leads the viewer to question and reflect the elements of space and memory.
His work characterizes the aspects of both elegance and rawness. The finished forms of his work exhibit a pleasing visual rhythm resulting in a preciousness that one would not normally bestow upon the materials present. Seraphin Gallery has been impressed with the power and independence of his works, they have the ability to, at once, encapsulate the viewer with their sensory and narrative qualities.
Through construction, Scarpone finds answers to his questions of urban life and past experiences. The artist’s inspirations and influences include artists from the Arte Povera movement, especially Giuseppe Penone and Jannis Kounellis, and Edward Kienholz. The Arte Povera artists redefined art in the 1960s in Italy, recalling the Dada period and the impact of Marcel Duchamp.
Phillip Scarpone has been awarded several grants and scholarships during the course of his career to explore the sphere of retrospection in fabrication. These include The Dean’s Award, The Mary Rosenblatt Scholarship, Travel Grant, Public Art Grant, the Individual Artist Opportunity Grant, the NEA Established Artist Grant, and Frank-Ratchye Studio for Creative Inquiry, Art at the Frontier Grant. He is also the recipient of several awards and recognition from juried shows and competitions.
From Sallade, Dubinsky, Scarpone, Group Show, 2017
"‘Displacement’ displays three items that were floating around my studio throughout 2013. All of the items spawn from personal memories on a fragmented steel structure. The cast bronze peppers are reminiscent of the drying pepperoncini in my apartment windows, the photograph is one that I took of a garment left behind from a fire near my old apartment and the piece of fabric is one that is relational to the garment in the photograph. Much like a pin board of notes or ideas, the grouping of the three items creates an abbreviated visual poem."
"'Fragments' is an observation and collection of items found within a small, dimly lit, area of the home I grew up in, the basement. It highlights my grandfather's tools, who I never met, from when he first came to the United States in the early 1900's. Behind the oil can is a wooden paneling section reminiscent of a small wall adjacent to the underside of the basement steps. Much of my large sculptural work merges aspects or fragments of specific places, this small work combines artifacts of untold stories to create a new one.
"The sensation of mystery inspired ‘Apt. #15’. For a six month period I walked by the front window of the apartment below mine in Athens, Georgia never seeing the person who lived inside. A towel protruding through their window blinds was my only indication that somebody lived there."
By: Alyssa Laverda, Associate Director
Phillip Scarpone’s recent investigation through the grounds of the Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh has yielded a collection of cement-lined relief sculptures that speak to the impermanence of legacy, but also the human will for the endurance of it. This series is created through the heavy constructive materials of concrete, steel, and wood, but combine together to form softened and worn crests of grace— capturing the essence of redemption and forgiveness that we all hope to achieve in the end. Inspired in his work by personal experience and memory, Scarpone now looks to how we as a society invoke remembrance. How is a lifetime memorialized? At the rudimentary core of any burial ground is an inexplicit silence, the invisible sense of awe and respect, and a sublimity that seems to emanate from the earth-- reminding us of our own mortality. In attempting to engage with this fortitude, Scarpone collects imagery, places his feet in the steps of strangers, and opens up to the well of loss, death, and the celebration of life.
Throughout The Allegheny Clusters, monumental association occurs in the plaque-like structures that are set (or not set) on steel bases. The cement forms intimate weathered stone, beaten by the elements until canyons of carved grooves become velvety bluffs. This illusion of heaviness, the suggestion of lasting stone, simulates the complex depth of hushed sensitivity and alludes to the profound sense of permanence of a final resting place. The subjects seem to be excavated to expose their amalgamations; pieces of tombstones, mausoleums, parts of the vigilant protection of weeping angels and blessed saints, fragmented symbols of justice and virtue are all abstractly combined to form a visual narrative of piercing moments. Juxtaposing these images establishes a tangible connection between them, reforming their separate appearances into a group identity. These three-dimensional machined collages create a meditative platform for contemplating our age-old societal construct of interment, while also offering a concerted tribute that encompasses the commemoration of these deceased inhabitants arising out of the physical markers of their individual sacred sites.
The formal compositions of the works refer back upon themselves, back onto the concept of the cycle, of a story that has completed. The three positions of the sculptural works (floor, stand, wall) act as a beginning, middle, and end, but are resolute in their own parts. Tied to the ground, Allegheny Cluster #3 exhibits heavy mass— the gravitational pull of a starting point. The standing piece dictates a labored transition from the floor to the wall, as it has evolved but appears to still rely on the complete support of the steel bracing. Allegheny Cluster #2 frees itself from these ties and sits on the wall at eye level. Apart from the rest, the work bears its own weight and floats on the white wall. Offering multiple interpretations, such as this program of ascension, the Allegheny Clusters are each intrinsically powerful and individually unique.
Scarpone's process for creating this particular collection interweaves traditional sculptural practice with cutting-edge visual technology. From photographic source material, the artist manipulated three-dimensional sketches through mesh scanning sequences and CAD CAM software. The works were then created in birch plywood using a triple axis CNC machining method along with conventional metal fabrication techniques. As these images become more and more removed from their original state, becoming lesser facsimiles of the original carvings, further "deterioration or fragmentation of information in the images and objects" occurs. This digital or synthetic erosion feels akin to the organic wear of the carvings.
The works at first seem macabre, but when one is engaged with the pieces, they appear secure and serene. Their understated nature asks the viewer to come in close, to appreciate the muted aspects of their mellow transitions between flowers, hands reaching out, and lit torches. The pieces create a stilled moment, much like the charged and subdued atmosphere from where they were inspired. The pensive quietude, sealed space, and states of recollection of Scarpone's journey through the Allegheny Cemetery is fully realized in these three substantial works that stand nuanced in their monumental yet moderated forms.
By: Bailey Dodds, Seraphin Gallery Intern
Edited By: Alyssa Laverda, Associate Director, Seraphin Gallery
This July at Grizzly Grizzly, Phillip Scarpone, a Seraphin Gallery artist, has created an ethereal multi-sensory installation for viewers. The exhibition is called University City Station: Glassboro, a large-scale sculpture that fills the entire space of the gallery. The piece itself is created through the process of casting and metal fabrication.
As you walk into the gallery you are instantly confronted with a large industrial pod, a perplexing architectural experiment encompassing the complete space. The structure is a narrow rectangular enclave, a combination of different man-made materials with a door half opened. The mysteriously still structure is both intimidating and inviting. You can hear the faint hum of the air-conditioner from inside, drawing you in from the Philadelphia heat. The cool blue glow offers some refuge from the beaming gallery lights. With the little space that remains in the gallery it feels daunting to be on the outside of the structure, you are immediately compelled to enter.
Once inside, you are not sure whether to feel safe, as you are encapsulated in the intimate indigo space or claustrophobic and terrified at the thought of the whole foundation crumbling over your head. Then the rough texture of the interior is illuminated and it is clear that this is not a fragile construction. There are cracks, exposed insulation and leaks of light from the outside. The constructed details emanate years of build-up and decay. This decrepit interior is cool and protected but there is a slight paranoia as you stand immersed in the white noise and dropping temperature.
The source of this imagined environment; University City Station: Glassboro is a fused memory of a scrap yard in Glassboro, New Jersey and a Septa station in Philadelphia. The combination of these two sites proposes a new space, a physical point of contact between reality and memory. This intangible territory, that is so often trapped in our individual imaginations has now been given a unique identity, now accessible to the viewer.
This recollection of memory and site-specificity is part of Phillip Scarpone’s process, he has stated: I am interested in how recalling a moment, place or experience, (and then) diluting it and filtering it through a mental sieve, can create new poetry I what we find important. Through his manipulation of materials and recall, the installation transports the viewers into an eerie environment, addressing concepts of palpable existence and retrospection simultaneously, while instilling a slight fear of the unknown.
Seraphin Gallery has recently consigned three smaller sculptures from a series by Scarpone that encompass similar lineations of industrial composition and decay. Ricordi Rotante Sediment #1 and Ricordi Rotante Sediment #2 are compilations of steel, concrete and found objects like wrenches and oil cans that establish a raw display of time and place. Drawing upon memories of his father, Scarpone creates molds from his father’s tools--symbols of an earlier period and a sense of nostalgia.