Those who miss the lurid intensity of Times Square can visit "Inner City Lights," the second New York solo show by Marco Lodola, an Italian artist born in Dorno. In the darkened gallery, Lodola presents seven recent Plexiglas reliefs. Back-lit with white and colored neon, these glowing panels seem to hover against the wall, suspended in mid-air. The constructions resemble garish electric signboards for commercial establishments, such as restaurants, bowling alleys and department stores.
The artist was inspired in these works by commercial graphic design and Matisse's late paper cutouts. Lodola assigns a fantastical, nearly mythological status to the products of mass culture. His works are hot -- literally so -- and their wild color schemes have a passionate energy in contrast to Pop's famous coolness.
As Lodola focuses on mass consumer products, a number of works refer to Hollywood films, including Pas de Deux and Fruits, which are based on stills from Busby Berkeley musicals and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers extravaganzas. In these carefully designed works, Lodola emphasizes a movement or action that could be exaggerated and repeated. Some sculptures are more ambiguous, and hint at a political target. The figure in Kaos Time, for example, at first appears to be a punk kid, perhaps a hardcore musician with a colorful Mohawk yelling into a mike. But its featureless white face also hints at a neo-Nazi skinhead screaming an angry epithet. In this exhibition, Lodola turns out to be somewhat iconoclastic, as he suggests that all products of visual culture result from a rather vulgar exercise.
Marco Lodola, "Recent Works," Mar. 3-31, 1998, at Marisa del Re, 41 East 57th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022