"I wanted to have a group show with myself at different stages of my career," explains Vincent Falsetta, as we walk through Agendas -- Several Decades of Painting, on display at UNT on the Square in Denton.
He hesitates to call the show a retrospective, although in many ways that's what it is, because for each of the 15 paintings in the gallery there are rooms filled with variations on the style. But here in the space next to paintings as recent as 2014, his work from 1975 feels just as fresh as it probably felt then. There's no chronology to the paintings on display, letting each work ricochet off the others in an atemporal conversation about an artist and his progress.
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Although abstract in nature, Falsetta's work is the product of intricate systems. His pieces from the '80s, which seem casually littered with colorful symbols, are actually the product of an underlying grid. Otherworldy and wholly random, the figures float about the canvas, but they never bump into one another. (Falsetta explains that their placement is the only thing organized in the painting.) His works from the last decade bear interest in seismic activity, as presented through color studies and the lines that flow and squiggle up, down or across each canvas with a vivid musicality. There's nothing indiscriminate about his work. In each piece Falsetta demonstrates a mastery of the paint, even as his paintings vibrate with the medium's unbridled spirit.
In Agendas, you'll see the methodical transitions in Falsetta's work. The earliest pieces in the show are two small, framed paintings in the back from his "Sound Waves" series, which resemble printmaking. You'll see him shift into and then ultimately out of representation in '80s, which he explains was necessary "to avoid the narrative." In a work from 1999, you'll see a small study in the value of color blocks. And in the past few years, you'll see the paintings in which he layers and pulls paint across a canvas, sometimes filling it and other times leaving the transparent first layer peeking out from beneath the thick paint. He says he only plans the first section of his each paintings, and the work stems from that first move.
But that might be selling his prep work short, as Falsetta fastidiously keeps notecards of ideas, opinions, plans, colors or thoughts from wife Martha (MWF in the cards) related to his paintings. Five hundred of these notecards were on display at the Reading Room in 2011. Here, at the UNT on the Square gallery, you'll see only the paintings, but you can almost hear the chattering of the hundreds and thousands of thoughts Falsetta pours into each.
Agendas is a study of the ideas behind painting, and an up-close look at one of the greatest's painters in our city at different phases in his career. See the exhibition before it closes Saturday. Open daily.