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Still Exploring Pure Forms. Vincent Inconiglios’s Work 1967-2015

Still Exploring Pure Forms. Vincent Inconiglios’s Work 1967-2015

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Installation view of “Guilty Pleasure.” Photography by Haoyu Zhao, Courtesy of Cinema Supply. 

Vincent Inconiglios was one of the lesser-known but equally creatively vigorous members of Manhattan’s downtown art scene in the 1960s and ‘70s. Like many of his peers, he has tirelessly worked through a quintessentially American vernacular yet never quite got his due. This all changed with his recent solo exhibition Guilty Pleasure, currently on view at Cinema Supply.

As a witness to the early industrial years of the Meatpacking District, Inconiglios has been acutely aware of the social milieu he was part of when he moved into his studio and retained the creative rupture of that specific moment in his painterly practice. Inconiglios’s paintings keep revisiting the intellectual debates happening toward the end of Abstract Expressionism as the dominant mode of production, as minimalism and other conceptual movements challenge what painting can do and what different forms abstraction can take on. Reflecting on the limit of painting rather than its end, Inconiglios thus has been producing paintings that synergize Pop, abstraction, and conceptualism.

Situated in a restored warehouse building in Chelsea, which was formerly home to Star Cinema Supply Company in the 1970s and ‘80s, Cinema Supply’s barebone loft style and open display of archival materials documenting the space’s former life speak to its commitment to contextualizing artists’ works as living memories of certain geographies and times. An exhibition focusing on Inconiglios’s decades-long practice could not be more fitting for Cinema Supply, as the artist has occupied spacious loft studio on Gansevoort Street, not far from Cinema Supply, for many years.

Upon entering the airy ground floor of Cinema Supply, visitors immediately encounter Untitled (2015) and The Voyager (2018), both of which are large-scale abstractions that take the circular form to larger-than-life reverberations. In the case of The Voyager, the theater of operation is the rings of Saturn. Colorful and vibrant, they showcase Inconiglios’s peculiar ability to paint fantastical forms, commanding cosmological space and time with ease.

Vincent Inconiglios
Vincent Inconiglios. “Untitled,” 2015. Acrylic on canvas. Photography by Haoyu Zhao, Courtesy of Cinema Supply. 

Another point of entry is Inconiglios’s famous “Donut” series, which is prominently featured in the exhibition. Here, humor takes center stage. Playfully repeating the form of a donut to varying colors and sizes against backdrops of a quasi-metaphysical palette, at times within a single canvas, Inconiglios brings about an imaginative interplay where smeary swirls of wild pigments come together to produce diverse representations of the decidedly American food. In terms of composition, it’s often the case that multiple donuts move freely between scales with an enticing musicality and seriality. According to the curator Barbie Kim, who has been helping the artist organize his studio and build an archive of his practice, this series reflects Inconiglios’s conceptual investment in challenging painting’s supposed seriousness.

Vincent Inconiglios
Left: Vincent Inconiglios. “Untitled,” 2015. Acrylic on canvas. Right: Vincent Inconiglios. “Anti Painting,” 1967. Acrylic on canvas. Photography by Haoyu Zhao, Courtesy of Cinema Supply. 

Challenges to the idea of the innate connectedness between form and content and signifier and signified within the painterly medium continue in the exhibition. Anti Painting (1967) and Anti Painting (2015) both favor randomness, as rich brushstrokes of gestural hues hover over white canvases with no particular pattern. Geometric forms become an end in itself, without referencing a secret realm beneath it. In some paintings, texts that point to no real referent are placed at eccentric positions, be it the disappearing edges of the composition or the drifting diagonal of the canvas. Initially, Inconiglios had shied away from showing some of his earlier anti-paintings buy reversed his decision at the urge of Kim who saw an expression of boundless curiosity for painting’s fullest potential and capacity in them. Indeed, the exhibition’s multiple points of entry affirm Inconiglios’s insistence on freeing painting from conventions of representational paradigm toward an endless pleasure of generating pure forms.

Vincent Inconiglios: Guilty Pleasure is open through May 22, 2024 at Cinema Supply 217 W 21st Street, New York, NY 10011.

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