by Terri Cohn
Dramatic and dance-like, prismatic and soaring, Roslyn Mazzilli's monumental painted aluminum and steel sculptures command remarkable physical presence. Evocative of forms from the natural world, Mazzilli's works also pay tribute to venerable artistic traditions ranging from the striated, polychromatic surfaces of Picasso and Agam paintings and the dynamic linear sculptural forms of David Smith and George Rickey, to the feathered color of Latin American art and lappeted headdresses of Yoruba dance costumes.
Sometimes human scale, at other times heroic, Mazzilli's multi-hued sculptures of the past decade have consistently been involved with attaining a delicate balance between exploring the dynamic relationship of fragmented forms to space, and the perceptual, illusionistic and optical potential of color and light to evoke organic images. Of particular significance in the evolution of her aesthetic was a trip to Europe in the late 1980s, where she became inspired and liberated by Picasso's ventures with shape and color. While in her work prior to that time, Mazzilli did rudimentarily investigate the spectral potential of pigment on geometric or linear constructions, in general her works were either monochromatic or limited to a few tones and range of shapes. Particularly significant in her work from this period was her study of the expansiveness of line into space, as in the winged ASFOTHELOS and radiant SPECTRA, and involvement with the central, curvilinear openings created within her compositions of radiating linear elements like SPECTRA and SALSA DEL SOL.
Also established during this earlier facet of Mazzilli;s oeuvre was her profound interest in reflections and shadows, and the positive relationship of sculpture to site, a proclivity realized through color and shape that remains central to her ventures. Augmenting this inclination has been the more fully realized three-dimensional compositional complexity of her sculpture, in conjunction with an extroverted, kaleidoscopic expansion of her palette. Synchronous with these tendencies has been progressively direct and sensual evocations of the human and animal body in motion, as in works like THERE and MISTER GREGG. Such works are a natural augmentation of her exploration of shape, hatched reflection, and her celebratory approach to tint and hue.
In the context of large-scale and public sculpture, Roslyn Mazzilli's intelligent and innovative work commands a power of presence that places her work in a pivotal role within the contemporary art milieu. Creating a synergistic alliance between the profound sculptural and painterly innovations of her predecessors and her unique and innovative vision, Mazzilli's work gracefully bridges the interval between art and life. Celebratory of our kinesthetic relation to the world, such art demonstrates a commitment to a holistic and auspicious vision for the future.
- Terri Cohn is a San Francisco-based writer, curator, teacher and artist