Dominick Di Meo at Corbett vs. Dempsey
Monster Roster artist Di Meo presents transfer paintings and other works from the past four decades.
There are surprisingly graceful elements within Dominick Di Meo’s (b. 1927) small series of paintings of nude body parts: pointed toes, demurely crossed arms, a blossom-like cluster of legs. Abstractly arranged on the canvas, these disembodied limbs form surreal monuments that celebrate the flesh. Though the Monster Roster artist made these works four decades ago, this is the first time they’ve been shown. In 1966, his Chicago gallery at the time, Fairweather-Hardin, deemed them pornographic and refused to exhibit them.
“Transfer” explores Di Meo’s fascination with a technique that he invented in 1964, which let him “paint” with pictures of hands, cutlery, cigars, shoes and other images cropped from magazines. Assembling the clippings on a canvas coated in clear synthetic polymer, he allowed their ink to be absorbed into the transparent paint.
I love the eerie mood of his transfer painting Hovering (1972), in which a woman/fish hybrid floats above a sea of perfectly coiffed female bouffants, buns and ringlets. The grainy, aged look of the 1970s magazine cutouts adds an extra layer of creepiness. Di Meo enjoys dark subjects, such as nightscapes and moon motifs. I’m less taken with more recent works, in which he alters computer scans of classical sculpture from Italy—hacking off a limb here, moving a hand there—and has the results printed at a commercial shop. Set against black backgrounds, the fractured statues convey a sense of mystery as they emerge from the shadows. Yet they lack the quirkiness and unlikely juxtapositions of his earlier transfer paintings, in which oceans are made of hair and a dish might very well run away with a spoon.—Laura Pearson