The work of artist Peter Gallo oscillates freely between painting, drawing, collage, and sculpture. Filled with literary, art-historical, cultural, political, and musical references and detours, Gallo’s works, when installed together, create poetic, albeit labyrinthine, mise-en-scènes.
The critic James Yood identified in Gallo: “an apparent disdain for materials; an alert scavenger’s attitude toward culture; an eye for the poignant frailties of the vernacular; and an occasionally breathtaking ability to evoke issues of great import. His work is, inevitably, a mixed bag, because he treats the world and his mind as jumbled compendiums, filled with little connections and bursts of revelation that his seemingly slight but actually pointed interventions reveal. It amounts to a kind of grunge arte povera, a witty and instinctive immersion in the stuff of the world that is alternately lax and labored, spottily profound. A partial inventory of Gallo’s materials would include dental floss, toothpicks, a towel, string, wire, French vermilion oil paint, buttons, toilet paper, spackle, bric-a-brac, a bedsheet, picture frames, amateur sculptures, and patterned fabrics. These are usually mixed with snippets of found text or references to figures of cultural authority, either scrawled onto surfaces, collaged, or laboriously constructed as sculptures that allude to the likes of Spengler, Nietzsche, Kant, Pasolini, and Mondrian. His output becomes a kind of pantheon of gravitas—or, in its use of vernacular text, antigravitas made vital by the intensity of Gallo’s scribbles and his disinterest in pictorial nicety.” – Artforum, February 2005.
Gallo’s deceptively quiet body of work combines images from sources as diverse as gay pornography and ornithology with words by Roland Barthes, Freud, and bands like Joy Division and The Cocteau Twins. He utilizes simple formal structures that emphasize the materiality of painting, and his works alternate between, or combine, abstract, figurative, and textual elements. Nautical imagery derived from historical sources such as the Ship of Fools and the Ship of State, stands as one of his signature subjects.
Peter Gallo (b. 1959, Rutland, VT) lives and works in Hyde Park, VT. He received a BA from Middlebury College, and an MA and a PhD in Art History from Concordia University, Montreal. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin; White Columns, New York; Horton Gallery (Sunday LES), New York; and Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London; among others. The gallery presented a solo booth of the artist’s work at The Independent Brussels in 2018 and a two-person exhibition The Patients and The Doctors with David Byrd in 2015. The artist’s work has been included in Artforum, the Village Voice, The New York Times, and Art in America, among others.