by Andrew Travers
Aspen Times– Paul Pascarella spent much of December immersing himself in his time in Aspen during its drop-out heyday, from the late 1960s to the early ’80s. It was here and then that he got his start as a graphic artist and abstract painter, and where he designed Hunter S. Thompson’s iconic gonzo fist logo in 1970.
Recovering from eye surgery late last year, Pascarella — now based in Taos, New Mexico — read Thompson’s work, talked to old Aspen friends and conjured memories to prepare himself for a new body of work about exploring the meaning of “gonzo” through the life and work of his old friend Thompson. The 18 resulting pieces are now on view at the Gonzo Gallery in an exhibition titled “Gonzo Redefined.” Most of the new paintings already had “sold” stickers on them Tuesday night, as Pascarella gave a walk-through of the show.
The concept had originally been for just five pieces, expanding on Pascarella’s large-scale “Hunter’s World” painting, which he made shortly after Thompson’s death in 2005. But as Gonzo Gallery director D.J. Watkins and Pascarella talked about the project and Pascarella got to work, it expanded.
Pascarella said he began putting paint to canvas in January with a last-minute, deadline-flouting spirit in keeping with the gonzo tradition. For 15 hours a day, for the better part of two months, he painted and printed and tore through collage material, as the scope and ambition of the show grew.
“Instead of doing the five pieces, I did all these pieces — I just found clues that led me into different places,” Pascarella said.
Some of the work is directly about Thompson, using collages of photos of him, gonzo iconography, clips of faxed correspondence in his hand and — in “Hunter’s Night Ride” — a long passage of his writing from “Hell’s Angels.”