Andrew Castrucci’s first show at CVZ Contemporary is a retrospective that highlights his work of the past two decades. The various periods of the artist’s activity are all driven by his psychological meditations on the post-industrial urban environment, which he experienced moving to New York, in the Lower East Side, in the ’80s. Through his symbolic interpretations Castrucci reveals human struggle facing the inability to conform to general models imposed by social evolution and technological progress. His universe is a dual world that fluctuates between a romantic contemplation of natural forces and an obsessive perception of the iron-fisted metropolitan conditions.
The intimate perception of urban steels as a cruel perpetuated violence against human fragility is visible in his first body of works (1987–1998). The Manhattan skyline, in Skyline (1998) and Twin Towers (1995), becomes a surrealistic dimension where architectures are represented as overwhelming brutal structures. Castrucci feels and represents the ravaging effect this territory has on unstable life conditions.
The dark oil paintings where he applies black and white shaded colors are evocative of the ambiguous mysteriousness of the decadent culture that he portrays. Castrucci describes the skyline’s endless borders as a beautiful delirium.
Castrucci’s sensibility to the landscape also comes from his background. He spent his first twenty years in the proximity of West Hoboken to Cliffside New Jersey that he describes as a monochromatic abandoned waterfront, which is the outcome of the deindustrialization of ’70s. He then moved to New York in the Lower East Side. In the ’80s this neighborhood housed a community that was marginal and distant from the booming Wall Street economy. It was a world infested by heroin and crack-cocaine. The barbarity of the needle-culture is mirrored in the steel constructions and in the sharp hooks.
The hooks are Castrucci’s iconic signature trademarks. These recurring images are fulfilled by powerful allegorical meanings. They are memories of the artist’s adolescence spent fishing on the side of the Hudson and East river. At the same time they envision human addiction to contemporary obsession, such as drugs, sex or food. In Map (2006) he pictures the contemporary economic dependency on oil as our power source.
The recurring iconography throughout his work is a metaphor for the governing dynamics that are the product of the duality of the natural harmony of the forces of nature and the inherent Darwinian violence imbedded within them.
Fish-hook (1989) and Hook (1998) portray large-scale hooks in order to question the audience on a visceral level as to how it feels to be bait in a dystopian dimension. The pureness and austerity of the artistic gesture in his sculptures and paintings become more persuasive by using an eternal metaphorical image, such as the hook.
His transcendent materialism evolves in the ’90s into images where he applies colors other than black and white while maintaining the gravity of his monochromatic images. In River Shield (1995) he portrays black waves that communicate timeless tranquility as well as a frightful unknown darkness. Castrucci is again adopting a symbol loaded with a variety of interpretations. The river can “serve as silent witness or, seen in another light, the city is a body and the river is its veins.” (Art In America, February 2000)
In his Red Series, Andrew Castrucci turns his surrealistic images into more visceral expressions. The hooks hit the flesh. Blood is the primary elements of his Red Sea (2003). It appears from the bleeding cuts on the fingers of Tagliato (cut, 2000) and from the cuts on steel of Tagliato #2 (cut, 2001). Castrucci’s carnal anatomy in Inside Out (1999), which represents an oversized piece of flesh, is conceptualized through an abstraction of the forms, where the flesh resembles to the fluidity of the river.
Cow blood is applied to the canvas in American del Sur/America del Norte (2000), where Castrucci maps the American continent upside down. It refers to the civil war in Nicaragua during the ’80s and denounces how the money that funded the conflict was coming from the illegal sale of drugs.
The Diagrams series started in 1995 and it is part of Castrucci’s current works. Diagrams integrate Castrucci activity creating an organic dialogue with the other works. They are poetic process where through flow charts he represents the processes governing nature.