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20010413 nytimes:
Steve DiBenedetto
Steve DiBenedetto makes splendidly gnarly, infernally incandescent paintings. The six medium- size, semiabstract canvases in this excellent show may be appreciated purely as rich essays in painterly improvisation.

Brushing, troweling, scraping, scumbling and gouging, the artist creates topographies of nonstop tactile and chromatic intrigue. Areas of thick, striated impasto border on sections of translucent color; patterns of woven or braided lines incised into the paint are irradiated by crepuscular light. In places, fine doodling looks like the work of an obsessive madman, while other areas suggest a formalist experimentalism like that of Terry Winters or Thomas Nozkowski.

Emerging to varying degrees of visibility are Ferris wheels, helicopters and octopuses. A Jungian analyst might view these round, spoked images as mandala-form archetypes of wholeness and unity. The first two, however, are manmade, mechanical objects emblems of rational, Apollonian order wrested from the Dionysian depths where the octopus lives. The last, a sinuous, luxuriantly painted beast, clings to a web of brown lines against a background like hot, yellow sunlight in "Psychoptor." In "The Greedy Hippie," mudslides of murky doodling engulf from above and below a luminous, rainbow- hued Ferris wheel.

The id and the intellect, then: the octopus gives Mr. DiBenedetto's painting its sensuous, instinctual flow; the Ferris wheel its playful formal wit.
- linda 4-16-2001 2:40 pm [link] [3 refs] [3 comments]