"A Nightmare on South Front Street" -- Review of Nunzio Barbera's Exhibit at West Shore Gallery

Nunzio Barbera's exhibit at the West Shore Gallery in Wormleysburg is reviewed by artist Lawrence von Knorr
By: B V Wertheimer
Oct. 5, 2010 - PRLog -- Have you ever eaten a really rich dessert on top of a couple drinks and then gone to bed only to toss and turn and imagine yourself running endlessly and helplessly from some terrible menacing shadowy entity that never quite catches you but is always right behind you? Such is the collage work of Keyser, West Virginia's Nunzio Barbera --- depicting the over-analyzed depths of a Freudian nightmare. Each work is a cohesive melange of horror, science fiction and popular culture merged into a representation of more messages than you can find on a teenager's iPhone.

"What the hell is he saying?" will be the first thought in your mind, followed by a careful study of the images within the other images. Joe Pesci once said in the move JFK, "It is a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma." This perfectly describes Nunzio's work. It is "A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" meets "Creep Show" and "Mad" magazine. Nunzio combines irreligious, brash, funny, creepy hand-drawn elements and clippings from magazines of all eras, layering them by hand (not Photoshop, people!) onto a variety of materials. The result is pop art entertainment at its finest.

The best composed piece in the show is entitled "WWJD". Several figures of Christ on the cross are surrounded by sins --- pornography, sadism, prostitution and a perverted pope with an erection lifting his robes towards heaven. Is the artist asking 'what would Jesus do' in this era of erotic sin? Frankly, times haven't changed much when you recall what the ancient Romans were up to! "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do..."

"Status Quo" is a strong piece depicting a collection of ghoulish beings dominated by a sexy heroine in a red body suit donning demon skull head gear. Somehow I don't think the dudes are getting anything!

"Lost" is a bloody, slimy alien nightmare lorded over by a melting / bleeding clown and a UFO. Perhaps the alien had a little too many Reese's Pieces...

"CEO" is a 'Terry Gilliam-esque' (Monty Python) image of a decapitated business man whose head has been replaced by a raw slab of steak atop a fork. He is surrounded by scenes of sex and power. To paraphrase Balzac, "Behind every fortune, there is a great crime" (and a lot of sex).

"Aaarghh!" is Jack Sparrow's sexual island fantasy of totems, tentacles, bare breasts and chests of gold. Ah - the pirate's life for me!

"American Waste" is a statement on American excess and the unintended consequences of wielding power -- Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, oil, opium trade and vice.

There are several more deserving mention, but I would need to eat more dessert and spend another evening 'nightmaring' over them. In an age of Photoshopped surrealism, Nunzio Barbera takes a more traditional approach to his layering, using real scissors and glue to delicately arrange the oddest combinations of perversion and truth you will see for a long time. Look closely --- there are so many surprises!

Lawrence von Knorr
October, 2010

Nunzio Barbera's collages will be on display at the West Shore Gallery in Wormleysburg, PA (on Harrisburg's west shore) through the end of October. For more information, please see:


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West Shore Gallery, Inc., located in Wormleysburg, PA, is a fine art gallery and photography studio. The gallery carries original art work in all media. The photography studio specializes in wedding, portrait and commercial photography.
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