David Trulli: “In Broad Daylight” at Robert Berman Gallery


Source Code
David Trulli
Ink, clay and varnish on masonite
18″ x 24″
Photo courtesy: Robert Berman Gallery

Take a cursory look at the 16 artworks in “In Broad Daylight” and they appear as black and white architectural photographs of a futuristic world, perhaps seen from an Orwellian perspective. Up From Below could be a flying saucer beamed against skyscrapers so tall they actually reach the sky. Alternate Current is a giant socket and plug with a steel gray city as backdrop, devoid of people and emotion. In Broad Daylight, the most “modern” work, is two giant circular devices, apparently about to overtake an office, reminiscent of the iconic poster from Charlie ChaplinÕs ÒModern Times,Ó minus the actor. Source Code–the most “normal” looking of the series–is an office window, seen from an adjacent window, with a modern desk lamp in the viewed window, peering out at upper stories of a skyscraper city.

Look again at “In Broad Daylight,” created over the last two years, read the wall labels and it becomes apparent that Trulli is an artistic illusionist. He creates scratchboard works on board, covers the board with a thin layer of white clay, coats it over with black ink, then slowly and painstakingly scratches to the white clay to create magnificent, photorealistic, architectural masterpieces. The wonder of these works is that the artist doesn’t begin with photos, only with sketches and that he draws freehand with occasional use of a straight edge. The subject matter again reveals Trulli’s illusionistic perspective. Created using ordinary office objects–desks, lamps, chair, file cabinets, old-fashioned rolodexes–the works depict “a fly’s perspective”–a vantage point that few humans ever see, or take the time to see. The artist takes these ordinary objects and makes them extraordinary, as they might appear from a fly’s viewpoint. The flying saucer in Up From Below is the underside of a modern chandelier, hung from the rafters, while the skyscrapers are comparatively out of proportion. Current is simply a view of a socket seen from very close-up by a very small eye. Daylight‘s menacing circular devices are the undersides of office lamps, again seen from a small eye, this time from the floor into the lamps’ center.

Trulli, a former cinematographer with a penchant for film noir, has created ominous works that depict a world too big to easily embrace. Beyond this foreboding, the artist seems to be telling viewers to look again at the world around them, and if you think you know what’s going on, look again.