First one, and then another. When two people meet, the negative space between them serves to activate the relationship, the fundamentally social transaction that takes place there, whether they’re waiting at the same bus stop or standing at the altar in a wedding ceremony.
In this series of paintings, Marc Travanti seeks to obliterate the space in between, rendering the encounter of two individuals in bluntly physical terms—a tangled ball of arms and legs, twisted torsos and cascading hair. He depicts these ‘entanglements’ with a dry, tight-edged line that reveals their source in photographs of family and friends who’ve posed in these often ungainly positions. Cast against an indeterminate background, these bodies seem locked in desperation, falling through the ether with nothing to hold onto but each other.
The closed forms and intensely sculptural rendering of these paired, clutching bodies both reduces the individuals to a single, confused corporeal mass and opens them to a broader, existential reading. Fraught with anxiety, these couplings point to sources as varied as Henry Moore’s abstract massing of the human form and Robert Longo’s Men in the Cities. Created in the uncertain world of post-9/11 America, Travanti’s insistence on the sheer physicality and immediately tangible quality of these paintings can be seen as a call to return to the Real—with all the disquiet and apprehension that such a move entails.