In Dad’s Chair: New Work by Angelo Merendino on view at Foothill Galleries
The chair has been front and center in visual art for thousands of years. In the regal granodiorite sculptures of Pharaohs and the grand medieval altarpieces of the holy family; bearing the weight of Picasso’s Gertrude Stein, incriminating in Steichen’s homicidal J. Pierpoint Morgan, Esq., and in so many of Alice Neel’s intimate portraits, the chair is the necessary object for the seated portrait.
As viewers, we often ask ourselves if the depicted sitter is comfortable or confrontational, familiar or distant, convincingly revealed or obviously contrived, but we rarely zero in on the chair, the vessel that holds the subject. Angelo Merendino, in a masterful new series of intimate seated portrait photographs, focuses on the object—his dad’s chair—as a primary subject. Elevated to the role of metonym, this chair stands for Angelo’s father’s life, as well as for an expansive set of familial experiences.
“This chair watched 11 children grow up to have their own families; it has seen both love and loss,” explains Angelo. “No doubt my dad sat in this chair and watched The Beatles on Ed Sullivan; Walter Cronkite broadcasting Kennedy’s death; The Vietnam War; the fall of The Berlin Wall. This chair brought in a new millennium. This chair bid farewell to my parents and was passed on to a new generation, to birth new memories.”
For this series of images, Angelo invited friends to his studio to sit across from him and his camera. Coffee and easy conversation softened that potentially uncomfortable act of slipping into another man’s chair. Revealed in these images is a talented artist’s ability to bring forth both the powerful portrait of an intimate object as well as the personality of the figures finding their own connections to the chair, its previous owner, the artist, and, ultimately, the viewer privileged enough to experience these works.
Foothill Galleries of the PhotoSuccession
2450 Fairmount Boulevard, Suite M291
Cleveland Heights, OH 44106
In Dad’s Chair: June 9 – August 13, 2017. Opening reception 6-9 pm June 8
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