Jackie Saccoccio’s latest paintings, titled “Portraits,” have the beauty and menace of an explosion or an oil spill. Bits of pictorial information are both obscured and revealed as layers of pigment accumulate and spread across the surface; drips and fingerlike tendrils of viscous liquid flowing in all directions are evidence that the canvases were repeatedly turned or rotated while the colors were still wet. These parts of the compositions possess an anxious energy offset by ethereal, atmospheric veils, threatening to swallow the pictures whole.
In Portrait (White Out), a milky scrim envelopes a black structure that might be the ruin of a building, or maybe the remains of an abstract painting. The paint cracks here and there, evoking the passage of time, or perhaps, aging flesh. Portrait (Hermetic) features a dark vortex partially covered in thick droplets, falling from light brown clouds. Saccoccio covers up purposefully articulated forms in a haze of stains whose edges bleed into thin, leaking trails of pigment. Solid, liquid and gas all seem to meld into one another.
Saccoccio’s work appears to converse with a history of the sublime in American painting, from Luminism through Color Field Abstraction. But here, sublimity is the outcome of some sort of toxic accident or meltdown. The paintings are like windows onto worlds being destroyed, but the result is so beautiful, you want to throw yourself into the devastation.—Jennifer Coates