Linus Corragio: Motorcyles, Mayhem, and Madness


On occasion Linus Corragio resorts to commercial mores, such as with his motorcycle, "chopper," motif, and with his forgivably money making furniture. But, on the whole, he has an absolutely intuitive natural talent for design and composition as well as an artisan's tactile sense for material applied with abstract expressionist fluidity. 

Corragio has taken the precedent set forth by Picasso’s famous “Bull’s Head,” from 1942, made simply with the seat and handlebars of a bicycle, to an entirely unique and mature stylistic format, sometimes referential; at times wholly abstract. Yet, one cannot truly attribute Picasso -- this is Corragio's own thing. Akin to punk or grunge rock, this is junk sculpture.

His most recent solo exhibition took place at the Elena Ab gallery in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan, May 16 - June 30, 2015.  The walls were replete with prints and paintings relating to his 3-D works which came close to overloading the gallery, and due to his prolific output, editing must have been quite a challenge. Although the exhibition was billed as a thirty year retrospective, it was difficult to place the works chronologically. Up front by the storefront window were a half dozen of his whimsically dangerous looking motorcycles in size order, ranging from 14 inches long to about 3 feet, flanked by two, six foot high towers of tangled found metal parts, together assuming a "Mad Max" sensibility. The exhibition comprised representational works as well as purely abstract efforts and furniture, all assembled from a hodgepodge of whatever can be welded together with aplomb. His "screens," hinged partitions, along with the totemic towers were the most intriguing to this viewer; they are a stylistic admix of art nouveau, steampunk, Viennese secessionism, and utilitarian abstraction. Secondarily one noticed the materials welded together included wrenches, scissors, swirling rods, saw blades. . . did I see a kitchen sink? Surprisingly, Corragio's aggressively irascible, anarchistic, burnt steel modus operandi belies his acutely graceful, even contemplative tenacity. 

I counted 36 sculptural pieces ranging in scale from several inches to six or seven feet high, and 33 two dimensional works in various media, mostly framed and hung directly in relation to the sculptural works they resembled; perhaps were studies for, although they were certainly complete unto themselves. One painted oval panel included whirling metal rods and a watch face attached, corresponding to the design elements beneath on its colorful substrate. 

Linus Corragio transforms utilitarian ugliness into beauty when a drill bit or a vice grip become constituent components transcended into an altogether different gestalt. An ice skate, a bicycle lock, a boat propeller, spoons, knives, architectural ornaments, bicycle parts, horse shoes, and more are repurposed into art for their formalistic qualities alone, not for their function at all, unless irony (pun) is their wont - so form follows---?  I was told that the first pieces sold were a pair of non-functional rifles with all sorts of doodads welded on, and someone was interested in a chair (think: restful + communism?) with a back literally made from a hammer and sickle. - Christopher Hart Chambers

Mr. Chambers is an artist and writer. He also occasionally curates exhibitions. His artwork currently represented in NYC by Causey Contemporary.