About a year ago, the New Paltz painter, playwright, journalist and pan-generational scenester Richard Corozine found himself on the steps of his 70s with pneumonia and a badly injured back. It was an “ain’t going out like this” moment for the artist who had, in his own words, been muddling along for a few years regarding art and productivity. Forthwith, the ailing Corozine began waving his paintbrush, swiftly and with a fresh discovery of purpose. A single cycle of seasons later, the healthy Corozine is beginning to show the remarkable output of his invigorated year.
“Meetings with the Remarkable” is a 17-painting autobiographical series, 11 of which have been selected for exhibition at the Wired Gallery in High Falls in June. The series is not to be confused with Gurdjieff’s Meetings with Remarkable Men and has no intended connection to the famous mystic’s work, though Corozine’s sequence does share some of its far-flung exoticism and its spirit of pursuit: the sense that the finest mysteries are the most remote and occluded in space and in time, the ones that resist easy discovery or remembering.
While the series’ title and its premise might seem to suggest simple documentation, a gallery of eminent subjects in action, these paintings are rich in elements of slippery fantasy, symbolic play, narrative suggestion and routine violations of realism as they depict the painter’s defining encounters and experiences at home and across the globe. Corozine himself appears in most of them: the figure of a disheveled, mustachioed witness to or participant in all manner of Beat-flavored adventure, illuminated memory and hallucination.
There’s a delightfully eventful compositional madness throughout “Meetings with the Remarkable,” an intuitively distorted sense of space, time and place and a bewildering, strange cast of primary and incidental characters, some human, some animal, some history and art itself. What’s that penguin doing on the road? What is that bed floating on? Who is that naked dwarf standing on the Peekskill phone book? Why is that naked woman straddling a calf (non-sexually)?
The titles really help. In a rigidly consistent form, each title provides the painting’s subject, a hint about its theme and the date and location. Some titles sound like the purely functional, compressed text found on the back of family photos, some like the synopsis of a William Burroughs yage dream: Mom and Me: Home, 1950; Frenchie, Wren and Me: The Casbah, Tangier 1968; Bobby the Dwarf and Me: The Passion, Peekskill 1960.
“Meetings with the Remarkable” has the invented-world, immersive coherence of an album done in an intensive, fevered blush of inspiration. It is clear that Corozine worked hard on the series, but there is also the sense that the real work was already done, in the life that produced the subjects: reading the good stuff, going to the out of-the-way places (John Willy the Boatman and Me: To the Blaskets, 1971), getting to the bottom of the places and the people you are from and then letting them all speak to each other in a tongue that even the artist doesn’t fully understand.
Corozine studied art at SUNY-New Paltz and the School of the Visual Arts. He has shown at various New York City spaces (Sid Deutsch Gallery, Henrika Manes Gallery, Allen Frumkin Gallery, Marian Goodman Gallery, Hansen Gallery, James Yu Gallery) and locally at SUNY-Ulster’s Muroff-Kotler Gallery. “Meetings with the Remarkable” will open at the Wired Gallery on Saturday, May 30 with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. The show will be on view through Sunday, July 5.
The Wired Gallery is located at 11 Mohonk Road in High Falls. For more information, visit www.thewiredgallery.com.
Opening simultaneously with the Wired Gallery exhibit will be a group show featuring ten Wired Gallery Online artists at Coldwell Banker Village Green Realty, located at 3656 Main Street in Stone Ridge. Wired Gallery Online is an online gallery managed by the Wired Gallery, which gathers works by select mid-Hudson Valley artists. The Coldwell Banker show includes works by Alix Ankele, Joan Barker, Jane Bloodgood-Abrams, Mary Anne Erickson, Kari Feuer, Robert Hite, Judith Hoyt, Warren Hurley, Kathleen McGuiness and Marilynn Rowley.
“Richard Corozine: Meetings with the Remarkable” opening reception, Saturday, May 30, 5-7 p.m., through July 5, Wired Gallery, 11 Mohonk Road, High Falls; www.thewiredgallery.com. You can still view the show on Saturday & Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Corozine will be giving a talk on the stories behind the paintings on Saturday, June 13 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.