Cherry Branch Gallery, 2014

Catalog Essay by Joseph Dezzi

Early in his career as a painter, Marc Pelletier registered the influence of action painting and the writing of figures like Alan Kaprow on his practice. Though Kaprow wished to negate the art object and strove for a merger of art and life, primarily influencing the burgeoning field of Performance Art, there were other aspects that struck a chord with the young painter from Lewiston, Maine, namely “skin freakism.”

“Skin freak” is loosely defined as the painter's psychedelic, sensual and immediate engagement with paint as tactile and visual substance, as well as the painting's ever changing “skin.” In 1981 he attended the Skowhegan School and absorbed the all-over painting theory of Milton Resnick. His work has attempted to marry these ideas with that of paint as a traditional image making tool. Later in the 80's, he developed this practice while participating in New York's East Village art scene where he landed in 1984 after graduate study at Syracuse University. Since then, his work has vacillated between abstraction and figuration, endlessly inventing new formats in which to "freak."

Though his work has ranged from large scale near abstract dreamscapes featuring fragmented figures and symbols to more figurative urban landscapes, a fluid engagement with paint and the immediate graphic gesture have always dominated. A staggering output of graphic works (drawings, watercolors and etchings) encapsulate an obsessive search for a matching immediacy on paper.

This new body of mature work distills many of these concerns in both serene and explosive landscapes, bringing to mind recent global enthusiasms and revolutions. A haunting form rises from the tumult of a gathering crowd in Sirocco giving a powerful, abstract expression to a peoples strife, while Poppies forecasts trouble beyond the tranquility of its subject. In Sentinel, the "skin" coagulates to an impasto that betrays the marching figures caught within while equally imbuing them with fecund life. Pageant and Summit hint at tectonic events shifting under the weight of human will. These works thrive in a place between abstraction and figuration where joy, desperation and the stunning beauty of paint can rest a while.