Visual Arts

Sugar Land Artist Continues Work on Epic 300-Character Frieze

Something epic is happening over at G Gallery, courtesy of Italian-born Sugar Land artist Fabio D'Aroma, who is working on a series of paintings - think Leonardo da Vinci meets Blackhawk Leather - which eventually will be morphed together into a 300-character frieze. The exhibit, A Pound of Pursuit (Studies for a Procession), includes all stages of this work, including physiognomic studies in graphite, fully rendered faces for his characters, and seven segments of his frieze.

Follow the exhibit in numerical order, and get to know his cast of characters before journeying into his fantasy world. They are all Caucasians, with mottled blue-gray skin tones, exaggerated facial features, undersized limbs and distended bellies. The characters are mostly nude, often androgynous, and sport militaristic garb, such as breastplates, armbands and helmets; worker's attire, including helmets, aprons and gloves; or the uniforms of religious orders, such as nun's habit or monk's robe.

Round the corner and see these characters come to life in small scenes set against white backgrounds; each vignette designed to stand alone while also working as a future part of the greater whole. What ties the segments together is transportation, such as a wheelbarrow, cart, litter, king carrier, or just two walkers connected by something that spans the canvas, such as a longhorn skull or umbrella. Once assembled together in his frieze, whether by placing the segments side by side or digitally joined together, they will form a narrative procession.

In A.A.A., an elf-like youth sits on a box of dynamite holding an upturned top hat filled with a bottle of Moet Chandon-turned-Molotov cocktail, a lighter and pliers. Trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey is a solemn crone, adorned with crown of sausage and laurel leaf, on a journey to sacrificial ritual or cannibalistic feast

Blue is the symbol for virginity in the segment called Iron Maid, featuring a kneeling older woman wearing metal breast plate and ruffled pant-less tutu, holding her blue-gloved hands in prayer as she worships at the altar; only the red rose of her fedora alludes to flowering.

D'Aroma was one of 110 artists who made it to the final round of judging in the 2015 Hunting Art Prize; on opening night of the exhibit we learned that he did not win for his entry, The Quietest Place on Earth. The full-scale version of this piece was on loan for the competition, and I hope it can be returned to the gallery for the remainder of the exhibit.

The artist began working on this procession project in 2010, and this exhibit contains pieces from the Retrocorionica and West of Ovest segments, as well as studies for his next segment. The body of work feels like history in the making, and seeing the exhibit makes me want to see and learn much more from this artist.

A Pound of Pursuit (Studies for a Procession) continues through June 3, at G Gallery, 301 East 11th, open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, 713-869-4770,

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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney