“Words in Progress,” a solo exhibition by Pierluca De Carlo opens at Backspace Gallery. Playful puns and corrosive insights are key ingredients in the word salads concocted by the LA-based Italian immigrant, and former long-time commercial director.
The effusive De Carlo grasped the power of advertising through his varied and successful career in that same field where a young Andy Warhol cut his teeth. De Carlo worked closely with famed fashion photographer Herb Ritts and on numerous beauty product accounts and celebrity shoots.
“I’ve worked in advertising for the past 30 years, mastering the art of visual manipulation. I now want to use these acquired skills to advertise social issues with the same bright colors and cheerfulness of commercials. I can create my messages and show them without censorship, free to speak a language that responds to me only,” De Carlo emphasizes. The messages in his art confound and amuse like ad taglines laced in cognitive dissonance. A painting of Frida Kahlo bears dueling slogans: “Made in Mexico/MAID in USA.” Familiar phrases get tweaked into mordant, ironic social comment – such as “Life Off the Greed,” or “Weapons of Mass Distraction.” The historical term Dark Ages is re-configured as “Dark Cages.”
De Carlo lived in Mexico for four years and maintains a residence there. That experience, and his concern over the current plight of immigrants, inform a piece that reconfigures a big sombrero as a spacecraft — cheekily adding a new dimension to the term alien invasion.
On view: January 25 – February 2, 2020
What: Opening reception
Where: Backspace Gallery, 1528 E. 17th St., LA, 90021;
When: Friday, January 24, 2020; 8pm – 11pm