Transformations

The recycle artist: Scaroina creates mystery — and local fans — by using whatever's available

The recycle artist: Scaroina creates mystery — and local fans — by using whatever's available

Alfredo Scaroina, Deborah Colton
Composición #025 (2012), acrylic, oil, charcoal, black gesso, spray paint, synthetic polymer, found fabric, and archival newsprint on canvas, 68 inch diameter. Photo by Julie Knutson
Alfredo Scaroina, Deborah Colton
The exhibition also features several smaller works that display Scaroina's characteristic layering. Photo by Julie Knutson
Alfredo Scaroina, Deborah Colton
Composición #019 (2012), acrylic, oil, charcoal, synthetic polymer, and archival newsprint on canvas, 60 x 30 inches. Photo by Julie Knutson
Alfredo Scaroina, Deborah Colton
Composición #028, at center, underwent numerous transformations, visible in its vestigial pops of yellow, black, and red. Photo by Julie Knutson
Alfredo Scaroina, Deborah Colton
Alfredo Scaroina, Deborah Colton
Alfredo Scaroina, Deborah Colton
Alfredo Scaroina, Deborah Colton

“I use found fabrics, muslin, linen, anything I can get my hands on, really,” the genial, Dominican-born Alfredo Scaroina explains on a gallery tour of his exhibition Taming Matter/Domando la Materia, currently on view in the main space of the Deborah Colton Gallery.

“I try to utilize reclaimed materials,” he continues. “I hate wasting material, it’s a pet peeve. Nothing is wasted in the studio — it’s all incorporated into the work.”

Everything from sand to metal dust reclaimed from steel workshops to newspaper treated with archival solvents contribute to the layers and texture Scaroina achieves on canvas.

This depth doesn’t simply result from material, but also from process.

“I try to utilize reclaimed materials,” Scaroina says. “I hate  wasting material, it’s a pet peeve. Nothing is wasted in the studio — it’s all incorporated into the work.”

“I staple the canvas to the wall and it begins a direct dialogue with the nothing that is there. The work keeps developing and developing. This piece [pointing to Composición #028] had at least five or six different transformations.

"From being bright yellow to being black, to white, to multi-colored to being what it is there.”

These transformations result from Scaroina’s own shifting emotions and relationship to the work, with the layered surface of the canvas mapping his negotiations and alterations of form, the frustrations and satisfactions of the creative process.

Scaroina’s style reflects the influence of a range of 20th-century painters. His abstracted glyphs and scribbles call to mind the works of Cy Twombly, while his incorporation of materials like newsprint and tiered compositions summon visions of Robert Rauschenberg’s “combines.”

His work has found an admirer in Houston collector and Colton Gallery partner Lester Marks, who counts works from Chuck Close, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Louise Bourgeois in his highly-regarded trove of postwar art. In a recent email, Marks noted that he owns more works of Scaroina’s hand than of any other artist, explaining that he is drawn “to the beautiful and complex mysteries he [Alfredo] is able to establish on canvas.”

Scaroina’s paintings — along with works by Roberto del Rio, Michael Macedo-Meazell, Becky Soria, Tania Marmolejo and Marjon F. Aucoin — are on view at the Deborah Colton Gallery through August 18 as a part of ArtHouston 2012. The Museo de Arte Moderno in Santo Domingo will also host a solo exhibition of Scaroina’s work in 2013.