While a seasoned veteran in abstraction, Carolanna’s eyes light up talking about her experiments with pigment and viscosity. Working like she does without a brush, pouring acrylic paint directly over canvas, is a dance with gravity on one side and materiality of paint on the other. What results are rolling curves of color that have been coaxed out over time instead of declared by the artist. I can’t help but follow the splatters of paint all over her studio floor, imagining how Carolanna would have crouched, lept over canvases, waved her arms in both sweeping and controlled movements.
Known for her poured acrylic paintings featuring colorful biomorphic forms, Parlato’s latest body of work remains buoyantly playful but reflects a new interest in the architectural and minimal. These works convey a certain tension between the plasticity of liquid paint and the focused control of the artist’s movements as she confidently tips her canvases, guiding pools of pigment into brawny visual structures. Here, the entropy of process pushes up against forethought and calculation, composition taking place on the surface of the canvas in real time but also within Parlato’s committed drawing practice and with the help of computer imaging software. Keyed-up color and robust linearity point to the readability, immediacy, and graphic presence of many facets of popular culture including advertising, design, comic books, and animated cartoons. This insistence on the illustrative reenergizes the legacy of post-war abstract painting with Pop attitude and punch, a cooler take on the heat of painterly process. Parlato’s surfaces are glossy, sleek, and reflective, and in raking light reveal to the viewer layers and layers of paint buildup in thick ridges and contours. The unusual physicality of these planes of paint help complicate any simple gestalt readings of image, and instead inflect the works with a sculptural presence that is best experienced from multiple viewing angles and different lighting conditions. Forms seem to point to bodily protuberances and orifices, but also evoke architectural arrangements, inspired perhaps by the brownstones and urban industrial landscape of the artist’s Brooklyn neighborhood. Often employing only a few colors and compositional elements, Parlato’s newest paintings are efficient in their drama and demonstrate the sheer power of limits: just this much is just enough.