Opening reception October 4, 6 – 8 pm
Dillon Gallery is pleased to present Alexander Kaletski’s “Cardboard Café.” In this dynamic new exhibition, the artist creates an entire environment for his multitudinous characters to inhabit, a fictitious European-style Café created with inimitable Kaletski style and panache. He continues his remarkable decades-long exploration of the wide variety of individuals who inhabit our contemporary world, in this case the denizens of this wildly diverse Café.
Inspired in equal measure by art history and the pervading commercialism of the modern visual world, the painted, collaged, and sculptural works display Kaletski’s virtuosic ability to create life and meaning from the most humble of substances. These artworks are created solely from found and foraged materials, particularly the logo and label laden cardboard boxes that surround us but usually remain invisible in their utility and ubiquity. After defecting from the Soviet Union in the 1970s, Kaletski became enthralled with the high quality and abundance of disposable packing materials in his adopted country. For the impecunious artist, they provided unique if unusual components for the creative process. They became, in a sense, artistic collaborators as their information, texture, hue, logo and design inspired various responses from the artist, whether caricature or character, celebration or ironic contrast.
In “Cardboard Café,” a successor to other acclaimed exhibitions such as “Cardboard People” (1996) and “Cardboard Castle” (2007), Kaletski’s free-form installation becomes home to everyone from the elegant but ominous Brooks Brothers to the Champagne-imbibing Franz Hals-inspired Four Musketeers, from the slightly feral Banana Mama to the shy couple in Big Apple. Never literal or conventional, the artist constantly surprises us as in the fluid merger high and low in Champagne and Coca Cola, where he facilitates the happy cohabitation of Veuve Clicquot and Coke. Combining cardboard, paint and collage through line and color, the resulting artworks reveal, inform and provoke, and almost always amuse.
Alexander Kaletski has played many roles in his life: at various times movie actor, folk singer, designer, author and artist, with many detours along the way. For the past twenty-five years he has devoted himself solely to art. Kaletski’s paintings are in public and private collections throughout the world, including the Caldic Collection, Resnick Collection and Arthur Altschul Collection. They have been exhibited in numerous museums, including the Aldrich Museum, the Nassau County Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Minsk.