With a background as a graffiti artist who progressed to cartooning and illustration – studying at NYC’s School of Visual Arts where he developed the distinct style he calls, simply, Fumeroism – local painter Fumero has joined the ranks of up-and-coming artists currently creating a buzz on the New York City art scene. While Fumero made an impression at last winter’s Art Basel contemporary art fare in Miami, and he has participated in a group show at NYC’s Art Bazaar space, his work officially graduates from the streets to the Gallery with his first solo exhibit now on view at Phantom Audio, just a few blocks east of the Chelsea gallery hub.
Curated by artist Frankie Velez, Fumeroism showcases nearly two dozen of Fumero’s portraits on canvases of various sizes. Fumero explains that his preferred palette of vibrant colors and the definitive line details of his portraits are directly influenced by the shapes and colors of “wildstyle” graffiti lettering to create an abstract yet recognizable human likeness. The work is really quite remarkable and each portrait invites a trail of possible conversations which must be blazed. For example, his portraits of iconic figures such as Gandhi, Bob Marley, Jim Morrison and Marilyn Monroe could not be mistaken for anyone other than their subject, but through Fumero’s eyes and brushstrokes their expressions transform into something almost otherworldly.
Jim Morrison’s mouth has a noticeable feminine pout while Monroe looks more gaunt and menacing than voluptuous and inviting. Marley’s portrait embraces such a sense of movement in the way the colors interact with each other that, to be quite blunt, it reminds me of how one might “experience” the paining while frying as hard as possible on LSD. Fumero has a unique way of seeing the face that is undeniably hallucinatory but also very effective.
My favorite piece in the exhibit is a portrait of Fumero’s grandfather, entitled “Grandpa,” which flaunts equal parts abstraction and realism in how the loving, aged character of Grandpa’s face is represented not by wrinkles but by colors. Needless to say, this collection of portraits is extremely compelling.
“The Family Portrait” (Table Series)
Also on display at Phantom is a representation of the artist’s semi-autobiographical paintings, The Table Series. This series of works in progress depicts an Italian American family (reflecting Fumero’s heritage) congregated around and socializing at the kitchen table. In this way, he brings his life experiences, traditions and nostalgic memories directly into his work. The Table Series also spawned the well-known “Table Series Logo” sticker, which has become one of the most famous, iconic street tags in urban settings from New York to Los Angeles. Clearly, for Fumero the story behind the painting is just as important as what goes on the canvas. We should all look forward to hearing more of the story.
Fumeroism is on exhibit now at Phantom Audio, Located at 48 West 25th Street (East of 6th Ave), 10th Floor in NYC. Viewings are by appointment only, so please call (212)727-0452 if you plan to stop by.