Contributed by Leora Lutz
“Lampblack” (and the show title of the same name) is a new perfume created by Bruno Fazzolari in conjunction with a series of small, abstract paintings on appropriated life-style magazine pages that are painted with black India ink. The pairing of these seemingly disparate objects and their formal processes are part of Fazzolari’s ongoing investigation with synesthesia and abstraction. The fragrance permeated the room and embedded meaning on the paintings.
When I entered the gallery I swore I detected a hint of Ralph Lauren Polo in the Lampblack fragrance. Not surprisingly, upon doing some fragrance research, the base note of Lampblack includes Nagarmotha, an oil derived from the roots of the Cypriol plant, which has qualities similar to the base note combinations found in Polo, specifically cedar and frankincense. This is not a bad thing, but only adds to the olfactory clue to the meaning behind the work, remarking on consumer culture, identity and issues of class.
Scent is socially pervasive – accepted on one level and an annoyance on others. Western culture has a long history of masking body odor with fragrances, denoting cleanliness, status and power. Office buildings in the financial district will send a person home if they wear perfume to work. Yet smells are everywhere; from the odors wafting up from the sewers, from acrid hot coals on a neighbors’ barbeque, to the crowded masses on a summer night on BART. However, the choice to wear a perfume on the body carries a political charge.
The power of perfume is the indelible mark it leaves on those who encounter its fragrance. It is a personal choice to wear perfume, but it is not a choice for others to smell it – its odor and lingering materiality stimulates the olfactory nerves, conjuring repulsion or an allure.
The sensory mobility that Lampblack perfume offers creates a compelling agitation with the painted works. Lined up in pristine formation, all framed in white, the installation of paintings lies about the economy. The blacked-out magazine pages imply a negation of elite townhomes and the parading of worldly taste called out in exotic rugs. By painting over images of lifestyle while at the same time offering a product for the body, Fazzolari creates a tension that lingers when considering this work, both literally and figuratively. Lampblack, both the exhibition and the perfume are aesthetically pleasing and at once provocative.
For more information on this exhibition visit here.