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Bruce Piermarini

A virtuoso of paint handling, Bruce Piermarini seeks to fix miraculous moments of spontaneous perfection. His pourings generate looping, squirming, organic forms set against a distinct, but also fluid, background. The pictures are very illusionistic, showing modeling, foreshortening and dizzying spaces. Often they seem to tell a bizarre tale. They evoke both the biological and the geological. Each one is a magnificently orchestrated, wholly improvisational, yet completely natural, event. Each is free yet precise, commanding yet exquisitely detailed.

Piermarini has been an amazing painter for more than twenty-five years. I try to visit his studio at least once a year. He builds swimming pools in the summer and paints in the winter, so I usually go in the spring to see his new work. He always dazzles me with his wild energy and newness. Every inch of every wall of the studio, which is 30x40 with a 16ft ceiling, is hung with new works, large and small. Fiercely frenetic, they leap out at you from every direction. Its thrilling, even scary. Only when you make a conscious effort to isolate each painting, do you start to see how very unique, sophisticated and intensely felt, each individual picture is. And only then, returning to the general aspect, can you surrender to his madness.

Piermarini belongs to the tradition of large scale, lyrical, abstract painting begun by Jackson Pollock, the Abstract Expressionists, and the Color Field painters. His main influence has been Morris Louis because, like Louis, he loves heroic scale, and like Louis, he explores the expressive possibilities of pouring paint. Since Louis, these possibilities have been greatly expanded by the new, water based, acrylic medium. Piermarini has been one of the pioneers working with the new acrylics.

Piermarinis most recent paintings are perhaps his most amazing. They are certainly his most articulated and refined. Basically, he has added European Surrealism, especially the hallucinatory, painting of Salvatore Dali, to his repertoire; and he has done this without interrupting his pursuit of Pollock and Louis. The most striking feature of the new paintings is their stupefying virtuosity. Piermarini has made his mastery undeniable.

For the moment he has given up his love of three dimensions which had prompted him to collage big chunks of foam onto the surfaces of his pictures. These burst out at us and into the room. The new pictures draw us in as much as push us back. But they still retain Piermarinis all out, go for broke expressionism; they have that same fiery obsessiveness, the same demonic energy.

Bruce Piermarini was born and grew up in Leominster in Central Massachusetts. He is the oldest of 6 children. Among the early experiences that help shape his outlook, he was working in a factory after school pouring molten plastics into moulds. He also played in a rock band as well as a marching band and can play the organ, the saxophone and the harmonica. Piermarini enrolled at the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1975. There he studied with the Color Field painters Dan Christensen, Larry Zox and Ronnie Landfield. But he was most drawn to the styles of Morris Louis and Larry Poons.

Between 1978 and 1980 he was a graduate student at the Maryland Institute, College of Art, in Baltimore. Here he was influenced by Salvatore Scarpita, a conceptual artist, and did a number of amusing conceptual pieces like exhibiting a canoe which had been crushed by a steamroller. After receiving his degree he returned to Massachusetts and came together with those painters who later would become known as the New New painters.

Dr. Kenworth Moffett



1980 MFA, Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland

1977 BFA, School of Visual Arts, New York, New York

1976 Yale Norfolk Fellowship, Norfolk, Connecticut