I: Upon Reflection

In Fall of Rome, Galuszka embeds a chaos of broken spheres within fractured arches. Through the patinaed mica and oval mosaics of heavy acrylic medium, the ruined membrane of former grandeur seems to disintegrate before our eyes. This work of art also feels unmistakably alive, a great creature - part biological, part mineral - taking its last breaths. Huge sweeps of brushwork prolong the tension and the impending collapse. Richly stained with brown oxides, the reflective panels appear as pools of dried blood and dark rust, a hybrid of organism and mineral. As with the other works, the textural power of this piece results from a fusion reaction between Byzantine form and primal content.

Maturana's Blackboard , 68 x 84,1997, private collection

The mica paintings provoke questions. How are they made? is almost always the first response. The second response is an urge to touch their sumptuously textured whorls and eddies. The originality of these large pieces produced by Frank Galuszka in the summer of 1999 draws the viewer in for a closer look. Part painting, part crystalline collage, these monumental pieces produce an unexpected impact. Stippled and scrubbed with translucent layers of paint, thenuanced grounds provide a deep atmosphere upon which cellular imagery takes shape. Galuszka then embeds the painted surfaces with mica tesserae of varying sizes, shapes, and degrees of transparency. The random poetry of placement works its magic and, without our knowing quite how it happened, the piece materializes as organic architecture.

In Falter, Galuszka constructs colonies of mirrored cells into a crenellated fortress suspended upon a textured sea. Struggling toward equipoise, the asymmetrical flotilla of hand-cut mica balances upon a single shimmering oblong. The use of the eye-catching mineral is a seduction. We are being invited to glimpse the perceptual world refracted within an array of mirrors, much as radio telescopes are massed together to picture galaxies. The artist knows that upon closer inspection we will fall under the spell of the mica's transparency. It reflects. It returns the ambient light, always from a slightly different angle, offering always a slightly different view. Yet it also acts exactly like Lewis Carroll's looking-glass. To confront one of these unsettling artworks is to play among possibilities, rustling and pulsing just behind the mica.We are captured and yet distanced by the transparent membrane separating the perceived canvas and the imaginative domain it contains.

 

Falter, 54 x 78, 2001, private collection

The physical presence of these works is initially overwhelming - eight feet square, deeply pocketed and textured by layers of paint, shards of mineral glitter and transparent glazes. It would be easy to simply scan the detailed surfaces, grazing here and there on eloquent contours. Yet to remain on the level of texture would be to miss the invisible domains beneath the surface. Implied by the manner in which Galuszka has shaped and applied refractive shards, these worlds embrace the microscopic - referencing the cellular structure of plants and animals, for example - and the cosmic, as in spiral nebulae and undiscovered solar systems. Like three-D postcards, they seem to flicker back and forth, from the near to the infinite. This mesmerizing ability to jump in and out of ontological focus defines Galuszka's entire, multi-stylistic oeuvre. In their illusion of shape-shifting, the mica paintings remain the most eloquent expression of the artist's metaphysics. Multiple layers of paint stain the mica-encrusted body of Sacred Heart.

Clusters of cells gather, float, mutate and disperse the stigmata of iron oxide. Some of the transparent cells retain their natural luster. Some have been smudged and overlaid with yet more plasma gel. The surface bulges with complexity -if we touched it, we could read the braille of a hemorrhaging domain. Other works in this series express a subtler, more delicate journey toward a fictive event horizon. Against an implied oceanic void, Delphi in Snow displays a single strand of mica cells dividing and replicating themselves into a huge spiral three feet across. Vague and indeterminant, the colors favored by the artist are familiar as a recurring dream, and yet we cannot say exactly what they are. These mica creations exist in a temporal domain before colors had names. In Orbits, glistening cells gather into concentric bands, gliding in ever-widening circles over the surface. Huge expanses of space appear to cushion the crystalline spheres - each a window, each a mirror. The sensuous surface tricks us. The eye is convinced by the suggestion of transformation. Something is happening in the looking-glass domain just behind the mica. Creating unions of juxtaposed realities - the perceptual and the imaginary, the organic and the mineral, the micro and the macro - is Galuszka's lifelong enchantment.

more

© Frank Galuszka 2009