PAUL ROUSSO ADDS ANOTHER DIMENSION
by Meredith Cutler
Candy wrappers. Currency. Newspapers, movie posters and comic books. At once crisp, well-worn and confrontationally familiar, Paul Rousso’s larger-than-life sculptures are … unavoidable. A Southern child matured in the post-Pop, neo-expressionist Bay Area and New York City cultural scenes of the late 1970s and early ‘80s, Rousso iconizes paper with a curatorial eye, a wealth of culture- buff detritus and an obsessive attention to finish detail straight out of the commercial design world where he started his “on paper” career as an art director for Revlon Cosmetics.
Rousso’s work focuses around an idea he’s coined “flat depth.” Noting that the arc of Western art history has traced artists’ attempts to first render the illusion of perspective on a flat surface and then to refute depth in modern and post-modern art Rousso’s pursuit of “flat depth” strives to render a two-dimensional object three-dimensionally, and toys with the theory of collapsing a three-dimensional object into two-dimensions.
I spoke with gallery owner Susan Lanoue about the late rise of Rousso’s international art star and her attraction to his work. While Rousso has been keenly focused on establishing his own enduring art legacy since the late 1980s, working in a range of styles and media from painting to collage to sculpture, Lanoue first tuned in to Rousso’s work after his “Currency” series debuted to much buzz at the SCOPE Miami art fair in 2010.
Rousso is “Passionate about paper, in all its forms,” explains Lanoue “an attraction that evolved into an attraction to [arguably] the most important form of paper in the world currency.” Bank notes scanned in minute detail, enhanced and enlarged to fit 4’x8’ or 5’x10’ sheets of Plexiglas are transformed from flat currency into solid, undulating sculptures at a disconcertingly human scale.