linda fantuzzo     freestimes article

The Sumter Gallery of Art is presenting two one-person exhibits, Candice Ivy: Black Tide and Linda Fantuzzo: The Space Between, both of which deal with a sense of place and space, but in very different ways.  
Linda Fantuzzo, Stolls Alley 30x30

Candice Ivy is a multimedia installation artist with a strong background in drawing. A native of Hartsville, she pulls from a wealth of material to explore the ways family, history, culture and the landscape intersect. Many of her films, including those that are a part of Black Tide, are shot at or near her family's home in Hartsville, allowing her to take what is particular to her own experience growing up in the Deep South and present it in more universal terms that allow the viewer to draw his or her own conclusions.

Black Tide evokes an overwhelming sense of the weight of Southern history on both the inhabitants and the landscape itself. In her artist's statement, Ivy refers to Southern history as "a black tide", thick as mud, washing over its inhabitants. The residue remains present in the land as well as in the psychology of every individual.

Ivy uses two large wall projections to frame a central projection, enveloping the viewer in images of raw, newly plowed fields that appear to be never-ending, moving past the viewer as if seen from the window of a moving car. The central film reveals several young men horsing around in a bedraggled yard. They never turn toward the camera, and they are physically separated from both viewer and camera by a chain-link fence. A pit bull, ubiquitous across the rural South, is the only member of the group to address the camera. Its snarling face dominates the film as it first lunges at and then attempts to climb the fence. The animal seems to physically embody the aggression that is not displayed by the men.

Ivy creates a powerful sense of tension and unease in Black Tide through the viewer's confrontation with subjects that are virtually taboo, certainly not openly discussed. But it is from embracing that sense of unease, from acknowledging that much of the South is in reality a Third World nation, that those issues can begin to be addressed.

In The Space Between, Linda Fantuzzo explores transition zones, the fragmentary spaces between defined environments in both landscape and still life. Without their larger, defining contexts, these landscapes and still-life elements exist in an ambiguous space — one that is both a deep, representational space filled with elements that sometimes take on metaphorical significance, and more abstract arrangements of geometric and organic shapes. Her treatment of the color and surface, of the atmosphere and light, give her paintings an almost surreal quality of expectation. It is this sense of expectation or anticipation that creates tension in her work.

Still Life with Painting is a painting that is both landscape and still life. She presents several still-life elements three-leaved branches and a vase - in front of a landscape painting resting on a block. The spatial relationship of the various elements is ambiguous in that the branches on the outer edges can be read as part of the foreground of the painting, while the central branch in the vase is clearly overlapping the painting and casting a shadow on its surface.

While 61 Montagu is clearly describing the side wall of an older building, Fantuzzo has focused in so closely on a small architectural fragment of the larger building that the composition could also be read as a formal relationship of abstract shapes. She engages viewers with these close, personal views by positioning them as part of the spatial ambiguity, moving the pieces far beyond a purely formal investigation of the subject.

The Sumter Gallery continues to mount meaningful and significant exhibits of contemporary art. Candice Ivy: Black Tide and Linda Fantuzzo: The Space Between will be on view through April 16. 
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