Dominick Di Meo’s early works combine painting, drawing and relief. Made while he lived in Chicago, the imagery evokes the subjective nature of collection, accumulation and collage. The figures and objects in the paintings are often fragments, conglomerated and repeated in the space of the canvas to emphasize their dismemberment from the whole to which the eye is accustomed. Di Meo’s fragments range from body parts to everyday objects (such as forks, spoons, wrenches, bobby pins and tweezers). By cataloguing such icons of civilization in a dark and subjective landscape, Di Meo’s work suggests that dissociation and chaos can occur by altering the relationship between humans and their tools. Although Di Meo’s works seem to debunk organization and scale, they do convey a fleeting sense of hierarchy; hovering over a few of these collections of fragments is a single face or head, suggesting the unifying power that the mind has over collections, regardless of how disorganized they may seem at first glance. Other reliefs and drawings are simpler, with single, mask-like faces. There is recursion within the symbols Di Meo uses; his works show faces within faces, faces within eyes, faces within arms—all suggesting that disruption of scale and contingency is an integral part of both Di Meo’s universal semiotics and his deeply personalized landscapes. These Chicago-era works confront and overcome a fear of deconstruction, as well as a fear of what becomes of the icon once it is separated from order and context. The gallery has compiled a hundred-page catalog to recognize Di Meo’s contributions and influential role in the Chicago art scene and on fellow 1950s artists. (Marisa Plumb)
Through June 28 at Corbett vs. Dempsey, 1120 N. Ashland.