Steven Colucci was born to an Italian family in the South Bronx, next to the now defunct Yankee Stadium. His father owned and operated the dry cleaning service used by New York Giants. Colucci remembers sharing dinners with legendary athletes like Tucker Frederickson, Rosey Grier, Jim Brown and Frank Gifford. At 12 years old, Colucci was diagnosed with sever dyslexia and forced to enroll at New York University Reading Institute, a small-private school in the East Village. During his years at NYU Reading Institute, Colucci was encouraged to express himself through painting; he became particularly in representing movements through paint and carefully studied the works of John Marin, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Growing up in an Italian middle-class neighborhood and pursuing the arts was not easy feat, Colucci traveled to and from Manhattan with an extra outfit to avoid being bullied. He changed outfits at 161st street stop on the D train.
After finishing the program at NYU Reading Institute Colucci returned to William Taft high school in the Bronx, one of the most violent high schools in America during the 1960s. Colucci remained focused on painting and won a scholarship to the School of Visual Arts. After graduating with the B.A. in painting, Colucci moved to Paris to continue his studies in art and movement. It is in Paris that Colucci began to study pantomime and ballet under the tutelage of world-famous movement artist Etienne Decroux. Decroux worked with Colucci honing his talent, until he was discovered by Marcel Marceau in the late 70s. Marceau had few protégés, and Colucci quickly became one of them. For the next decade under Marceau’s instruction, Colucci developed his own artistic voice and style.
In the 1980s, Colucci moved back to New York where he developed a dance and mime program, which offered one-on-one workshops with the world-renowned dancers and musicians like Martin VanHamel, Kevin McKenzie, Dennis Koster, Gerald Busby and more. He brought his workshop to numerous colleges across the United States including Barr College, nationally recognized for its prestigious arts program. Ronal Wilford, President of Columbia Artists Management, recognized Colucci’s work as high art.
Between 1980s and 1990s Colucci was asked to collaborate with various dancers and artists including Alvin Ailey, Melba Moore, Royal Ballet of Flanders, Julio Iglesias ad Etienne Decroux to name a few.
By the late 1990s Colucci refocused on painting once again and retreated to his studio in the Dunes, Westhampton, L.I. His artwork has been exhibited at National Arts Club in Gramercy Park, the Grant Gallery and the Belenky Gallery in SoHo. Colucci’s work is part of the permanent collection of the Mark Hachem Gallery in New York and Paris. The artist is a recipient of the prestigious Sam Flax memorial Award and the Orestes S. Lapolla Memorial Award from The School Art League of New York City and has been featured as a guest artist at the Museum of Modern Art.
Steven Colucci’s paintings and Haut Couture exhibition at the Mark Hachem Gallery, Madison Avenue, New York marked Colucci’s debut as an haute couture designer. Colucci feels fashion is a rendezvous of all the art forms making it a natural step for his career.
Steven Colucci is a perfectionist. As a painter, he describes himself as “a dictator, a controlling ballet master with a stick,” dispassionately choreographing his composition to achieve the exact result he desires. The paintings of the “Sea Series,” largely completed in 2010, are actually the culmination of 4-5 years of practice for the artist, during which he consistently developed and refined the language and formal elements that visually distinguish the series, sometimes repeating the same image for months until he was satisfied.
Steven Colucci’s iconoclastic approach to performance and the visual arts have not only long blurred the boundaries between these disciplines, but have challenged its most basic assumptions. The title of this show references a most rudimentary dance move -- the plié -- and our assumptions of what to expect in relation to this. Also the suggestion that we can simply press a button and a preconceived outcome will be courteously delivered -- a form of prefabricated belief in itself. Steven Colucci’s artwork turns such basic assumptions on their heads. Finding early inspiration in the New York school of abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock with his action painting, and then further by his professor -- a then young Vito Acconci while studying at the School of Visual Arts, Steven Colucci went from exploring the raw existentialist experimentation of New York’s early painting and performance scenes, to investigating the other end of the spectrum -- the rigorously measured and controlled disciplines of pantomime and ballet; studying in Paris under the tutelage of world-famous Marcelle Marceau, and engaging with the concepts of dramatic movement pioneer and intellectual Etienne Decroux.
Colucci has explained the difference between the extremes of pantomime and dance as being that pantomime forces movement via an internal capacity -- movement directed inward to the core of one’s self -- a source requiring extreme mental and physical control. Dance by contrast is an external expression; likewise requiring great precision, although instead an extension of self or sentiment that projects outwardly. While such historical ‘movement’ disciplines serve as foundation blocks for Steven’s artistic explorations, it is the realm in between that he is best known for his contributions -- an experimental movement and performance art that simultaneously honors, yet defiantly refutes tradition; rejecting a compartmentalization regarding art and movement, yet incorporating its elements into his own brand of experimental pastiche. Colucci’s performance works manifest as eerily candy-coated and familiar, yet incorporate unexpected jags of the uncanny throughout, exploiting a sort of coulrophobia in the viewer; an exploration of a cumulative artifice that binds human nature against its darker tendencies; highlighting traditions of artifice itself -- the fabricated systemologies that necessitate compartmentalization in the first place.
An accomplished artist, professional dancer and mime, Steven Colucci has had a lifelong pursuit of the arts. Born in New York City, Colucci studied at the School of Visual Arts, where he found inspiration in the action paintings of Jackson Pollock and his professor, performance artist Vito Acconci. He went on to Paris to study pantomime and ballet under the tutelage of world-famous dramatic movement artists Marcel Marceau and Etienne Decroux. As a classically trained ballet dancer, Colucci performed in front of thousands while traveling throughout Europe and the United States for 20 years.