Art on View
[excerpt from 500X Gallery exhibition
Szafranski's work is the most complex
visually and metaphorically. His assemblages are those
of mad inventor with anarchistic tendencies and a
bizarre aptitude for interior decoration (or interior
desecration, as some may say). He has a preference for
housewares items and domestically oriented fixtures.
Over the years he has served up aluminum gutters, lamp
bases, table tops, baby bottle nipples, beaded curtains,
venetian blinds... Szafranski has a gift for recognizing
the artistic fulfillment buried in stacks of conduit and
discontinued light bulbs much as Michelangelo
spied out the saint lurking in a slab of marble. Such
elements give his work a happy suburban veneer, but
beware the underlying current; its voltage level is set
One of the most elegant pieces in the
show is Vogue Oil-Glo
Device, a sort of hanging lamp with serenely
minimal lines of an industrial flavor. Conduit forms the
skeleton of a rectangular cube. On each of the four
sides Szafranski has installed two flame-shaped bulbs of
the variety used to mimic the cozy flickering of an oil
lamp. However, the bulbs, with their saw toothed
filaments glowing hot orange, leave cozy behind and
become distinctly confrontational. The romantic bursts
of nerve scrambling screech emanate mercilessly from
buzzers placed on each of the four corners.
(Sensurround! beams the artist, shut it off sez I!) It
is sublimely obnoxious.
The Cause of Knockers
feasts on an almost universally shared fear of door to
door salesman, particularly those with A Mission. The
piece starts off with a disk approximately four feet in
diameter sporting a gruesome pock marked surface, red on
red, achieved by encouraging a certain revenge that oil
and water indulge in when forced to mix. A shiny brass
knocker is centered in the morass. There is a peep-hole,
so naturally and with understandable trepidation, the
viewer tip-toes up to peek at what lies beyond. And lo!
Hovering in a blast of florescence, is one of those
little pamphlets (also red) promising in gothic letters:
Comfort, Assurance and Salvation. Fortunately, it's only
art, so you needn't decide whether to open up or sneak
off quietly and pretend you're not home.
Cause of Movers and Shakers (mad inventors
spend a good deal of time defining cause and effect)
coudl only be conceived in a state where gubernatorial
candidates entertain the masses with tales of their
innocent youth in bordellos. A fluorescent halo supports
a ten foot tall curtain made up of red bamboo and beads.
This bit of beautified exotica is suspended from a
curvaceous motor that, in its past life, hooked up to a
strap that fat people would wrap around their
mid-section so as to jiggle the lard away. When turned
on, the beads gyrate with a comic madness commensurate
with the finest in Lone Star buffoonery.
Don't let the humor fool you. Szafranski
is a serious artist whose standards for his own work are
as stringent as his observation of the sanctimonious set
are barbed. There is a logistical harmony, a resonance
of form and ideas that seem to be the province of mad
inventors and the hyper-analytical.