When I first met Sergio Sericolo years ago, he was a musician. Or at least I only knew him as a musician. He was the guitarist and singer with the power trio Even the Odd, a band that took rather straight-forward pop forms and exploded them in a myriad of megawatt directions.
These days he’s taking the same approach to his artwork, although thankfully at a considerably more tolerable volume.
NIPPERTOWN: A lot of your work seems to address nature – except perhaps your silverware series. How would you describe your artistic relationship with nature?
SERICOLO: I feel the motif of nature will always be addressed in art, and my relationship with it is based on many things. There is a great metaphor with nature in my work relating to the ideas of growth, change, decay and rebirth. Also nature lends itself to a greater vocabulary of images, making for seemingly endless possibilities of form.
The silverware book project actually really started this idea of creating my own nature. Nature is a motif that never leaves us. We make decorative images of nature. If you pick up a roll of paper towels, you see a pattern of flowers on it. Nature is always being represented and bastardized. So in a sense with my work I am taking some decorative form of nature and then creating my own nature from that. In certain cases, I’m taking something that was decorative and making it more real.
NIPPERTOWN: A considerable amount of your work is based on previously existing images. Do you think of that work as “appropriation art”? Is that a phrase that you’re comfortable with?
SERICOLO: I guess I really don’t think of my work as appropriation initially. When I paint, I place my canvas on the floor and pour paint and turpentine on the canvas and then see what happens – what marks are made. Then I slowly refine the mess into forms that seem to resemble natural forms.
My process – whether painting or drawing – is a reaction to existing images. I started to work from anatomy books and use the natural forms from those books. Some people may view the work as macabre, but I see the body as obviously a part of nature. The organs and cells and other body parts are very visual and just as beautiful as any other natural form such as flowers, etc.
I am currently working into engravings. I am attracted to the idea that the engravings were done by one artist, who based his engraving on an original painting by another artist, and then I make that printed copy into another original work of art. In a sense, my work is a direct dialogue with art history.
There is also an element of destruction in my work. I have to scrape with razors blades, use sand paper and erase and then draw back in to the piece. I like this metaphorically, too – that through this destruction, I can ultimately create something new and beautiful.
I also combine engravings to set up and encourage a narrative. With the piece “Dead Lamb Our Pets,” I am interested in the themes that an artist from centuries ago would approach, and colliding those pictorials together is interesting to me. When I combine the prints, the work has a more narrative focus. I don’t think of my work as trying to tell a story, so when I combine prints, there is this automatic relationship that happens and the viewer tries to make sense of it. For me, the images from other artists are just a starting point in my work, just part of the process. I don’t really think about the idea that I am appropriation artist.
NIPPERTOWN: You do tend to work in quite a variety of different artistic media – painting, collage, drawing, digitally manipulated images. What do you see as the common thread that ties it all together?
SERICOLO: The common thread is again this sense of creating my own nature while reacting to existing imagery. I feel that the sensibility is the same. There is always an improvisational aspect to my work. I am constantly reacting to the work, not knowing where it will take me. I do not a have any pre-conceived ideas of what it will look like in the end. That is very exciting for me.
I was a musician in my former life, and that was one of the great things about being in a band. You would jam and see what would happen and then slowly things would come into focus and you would have a song. While it was great to play the song in front of an audience, it was much more satisfying to go through the process of creating it.
Sericolo’s work is on exhibit through Saturday, May 30 at the Arts Center Gallery in Saratoga Springs as part of the three-person show “Wandering Intention” with Deborah Zlotsky and Brian Cirmo.
His work will also be featured in the Karene Faul Alumni Exhibition at the College of Saint Rose’s Esther Massry Gallery in Albany beginning on Friday, June 5. Other featured artists include Marie Triller, Thomas Lail, William Bergman, Colin Boyd, Brian Cirmo, Richard Garrison, Patrick Neal, Aimee Tarasek and Kris Corso Tolmie. There will be an opening reception from 5-7pm on Saturday, June 6, and the exhibition will remain on view through Sunday, September 13.