Grotesque Portraiture in Suraci Gallery

This past weekend was the opening of Matt Catanzaro’s “Face Reality” Exhibition in the Suraci Gallery. Catanzaro is a Marywood Alumni who graduated with a BFA in design along with multiple minors in philosophy, art history, and most relevant to this article, illustration. “Face Reality” is a collection of 22 vibrant, striking, and grotesque portraits of the most notable mascots from each American Holiday.  There’s the New Year’s Baby, the Easter Bunny, Uncle Sam, a Cupid, a Vampire, a Gingerbread man, Santa, and much more. Towards the back of the gallery are a few expectations of the holiday theme with heavily Cubism-inspired portraits entitled feelings like “Lust”, and “Jaded”.


The medium used throughout all of the works is a combination of acrylic on canvas and marker. Labeled on the side of each canvas is the date it was made, all of which were made within the year of the last two years. It is impressive to be able to replicate the same style and technique on so many different subject matter, in such a short amount of time.

The color scheme of the pieces is what initially draws a viewer in, it is the thoughtful element of the minute details that left me staring for so long. For example, take the piece “The Gingerbread Man”. The detail of the jagged candy corn teeth, the sliding off candy button eye, the stretched red licorice smile… The elements that make up a real Gingerbread man are harmless, edible, and sweet, and yet this interpretation makes me feel so uneasy. Which is exactly the point. 

The drooling, dripping, bleeding, melting, rotting aspect of make-believe characters is something absent from all lore I’ve ever heard and maybe that’s why I’m so mesmerized by them all. I’d recommend standing in front of each piece for way longer than you plan to because there’s always another perfectly placed, meticulous detail that adds to the character even more. 

This engrossing show is up in the Suraci Gallery from now until December 15th!

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