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Graffagnino rises up from ancient influences

Detail of Tablet #1"In an abrupt about-face, Tom Graffagnino has gone from creating tiny abstract collages (6 by 7 inches) to large sculptural paintings (4 by 5 feet). And where his past efforts are proficiently executed (if you can get close enough to see them) his new work reveals the maturation of an accomplished artist."

"At the group show currently on view at the McIntosh Gallery through January 15, Graffagnino's new works rise head and shoulders above the other offerings both literally and figuratively."

"The paintings are a combination of gesso and acrylic varnish  mixed together. What starts as a "liquid lake" as Graffagnino puts it, soon takes on a clay-like quality that can be molded into a low-relief form. The paintings continue on the theme of antiquity the artist explores in his collages. But whereas the earlier work only hints at ancient Grecian forms, Graffagnino's most recent paintings fairly shout 'ROME'."

"Graffagnino is, of course, of Italian descent. He was raised in Columbus, Georgia where his father worked as a local physician. Majoring in sociology at Tulane, Graffagnino took his first art course during his last semester.  Having found his calling rather late in his collegiate career, he went on to UGA after receiving his sociology degree--this time to pursue a bachelor's degree in art...."

"John Edwards, noted art collector and Roman expatriot, was at the gallery opening held recently. Edwards, who lived in Rome for seven years, was astounded at the parallels between Graffagnino's friezelike paintings and the Marcus Aurelius column in Rome's Piazza Colonna. "The similarity at a distance is just fantastic," commented Edwards..

"Graffagnino's small collages have been seen in the past at Atlanta's leading galleries--most notably Fay Gold, David Heath , Image South and the now defunct Gallery 29......"

Graffagnino's work is not provocatively angst-ridden,  nor is he trying to make an intense personal or political statement. The work is rather like the artist himself--soft-spoken and deceptively simple. (I "chatted him up", as my English girlfriend would say, for a full ten minutes at the opening reception before he shyly revealed himself to be the creator of the splendid paintings on the wall.) The longer I looked at the paintings, the more I was drawn into their varying rhythms and sense of mystery. Stare long enough and they will mesmerize."

Ruth Hartness
Atlanta's "Creative Loafing" magazine
January 2, 1988