The apathy and the empathy
Author of the article:
Feb 18, 2022
Kabob, mixed media by Gananoque artist Corey Ceccarelli.
Galleries are officially open, and a new exhibition at the O’Connor Gallery in Gananoque, featuring the artwork of Gananoque artist Corey Ceccarelli, is one that is sure to inspire a host of reactions in the viewer.
Titled “The 7 Deadly Sins” and open to the public until March 18, there is much to see and absorb. One of the first reactions elicited may be simple amazement that all of the works on display are indeed by the same artist, given the wide range of media, styles, influences and approaches offered.
If you like sculptural assemblages, mixed media and/or paintings, this exhibition definitely has something for you. Ceccarelli may be described as an emerging artist, and he is busy exploring all the possibilities that contemporary artistic expression has to offer — his energy and enthusiasm fairly vibrate through the gallery, even when he is not there in person.
Ceccarelli is constantly creating and experimenting, so in order to provide some focus for the exhibition, it was given the frame of the seven deadly sins (7DS). These are, for those who need reminding (I had to look them up): pride, covetousness, lust, gluttony, anger, envy and sloth. Fair enough — an exhibition does need a title after all, and this one works as well as any.
Arguments can certainly be made for which pieces in the show could reference one or more of the 7DS and how they manage to do that (or what the artist’s intent was in that respect), which is one approach to take when viewing this exhibition. Or you can broach it with the privileged information (as told to yours truly) that the exhibition is really about our collective, current malaise and lack of empathy and care for our community — interpreted as narrowly or as broadly as you wish.
If society has become apathetic, especially in light of our prolonged pandemic state, perhaps it is artists who are uniquely equipped to empathize with, and draw attention to, some of our societal issues. Viewed through an artistic lens, one might be shaken from malaise into thought, if not action, which is the point of not only this exhibition but much artistic production.
That’s pretty heavy stuff, but really the exhibition is thought-provoking rather than in any way brooding.
Ceccarelli delights in using mannequins that he has embellished in various ways in many of his works, and though the messages being conveyed may be quite serious, the use of mannequins manages to keep it approachable. Take, for example, the fencer-mannequin who has skewered the world with her blade. Titled “Kabab” (sic), it is both amusing and somehow absorbing. On the more sober side is the untitled sculpture with a mannequin bristling with metal spikes, his focus firmly on the tablet/iPad affixed to the wall, his back to the room.
This is a work that almost inevitably raises the question of whether social media has made us more, or less, social. Whether you care to apply any deeper meaning to the art in The 7DS (not necessary by any means), it is safe to say that Ceccarelli’s work is eclectic and extremely varied.
Some of the paintings clearly reference artists such as Warhol, Picasso and Matisse, some echo images found in prehistoric art, some utilize Op-Art effects, and others pulsate with bright, even neon colours. Pop Art fans will appreciate Ceccarelli’s celebrity and pin-up collages (though comic book collectors may have heart palpitations), and those who enjoy graffiti art will also be pleased by what can be found in this exhibition.
Don’t wait to indulge in “The 7 Deadly Sins.” The exhibition is up only until mid-March.
Kamille Parkinson earned a PhD in art history from Queen’s University, and is currently a writer, copywriter and art historian at large. You can find her writing at Word Painter Projects on Facebook, and can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.