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Leckie Gassman: Cold Cuts

March 21 - June 15, 2024


Leckie Gassman’s new body of work is a study in duality. Constructing vessels in the Greco-Roman style, using a contemporary version of the traditional 'Incalmo' glass technique, the artist uses each one as a canvas for freehand engraved images of symbols with conflicting meanings and connotations. The result is a riotous celebration of transformation and abundance.

Incalmo, in the Venetian dialect, means to graft two separate parts together – it also more generally means 'calmly' (calmo) in Italian. In the field of glass, it is, foremost, a traditional and highly skilled technique of fusing together two separately blown glass hemispheres, typically each of different color, while they are still hot. Precision is key; diameters must be exact, and the glass formulas must be compatible so that the contraction during cooling happens at the same time and rate, thereby maintaining the bond. At its simplest, the results can be a unified vessel that is partly one color and partly another, with a crisp line dividing the two.

This incredible feat of glassmaking skill has also become the beneficiary of technological progress, radically changing the process, if not the essential visual result. Kilns, cutting tools and chemicals have allowed artists like Leckie to short-circuit the process and produce a previously unimaginable abundance of incalmo. Instead of relying on finicky hot connections, cold tubes of glass are cut into bracelet-like bangles, stacked, joined and fused in a kiln before being picked back up on a blow pipe. Chemical bonding of cold elements can further amplify the effect, as in Leckie’s vessels, where the tops and bottoms are made separately. Where once a three color incalmo would have been an amazing feat to achieve with the hot process, quintuple incalmo and beyond is now perfectly possible with cold cuts.

In Leckie’s new series of vessels the bounty of incalmo is overwhelming. What few broad areas of solid color the artist allows, he covers with his spontaneously hand-engraved imagery that continue the theme of duality. While the pineapple is a traditional symbol of hospitality, in modern subcultures when it is turned upside down, it is an invitation to partner-swapping. Leckie extends the metaphor to the upturned cornucopia, to clowns who terrify and entertain. The engraved areas are rubbed with car enamel to create instant contrast like in the well-defined images on Attic pottery with their bands of narrative. Leckie demonstrates that he does not stand on ceremony, he is no slave to old ways. New tools, new processes, allow for new vivid expression like never before. This series is a love letter to progress and the celebration of ever-evolving human ingenuity, with a friendly footnote to heed unforeseen risks.