Edward Leffingwell, Art in America, February 2000
Andrew Castrucci casts for his metaphors. What gives his work resonance is the lengths he goes to marking the twine, dangling hooks and lures, that plumbs a personal and primordial memory. The reference is Mark Twain's. Riverboat deckhands measured the Mississippi with marked line to steer the boat clear of submerged obstacles. The deeper the mark the clearer the way. In his survey (1989-1999) exhibition the river speaks Castrucci's conduit of memory is the Hudson. Both author and artist escape picturesque provincialism by understanding that river culture is related to the evocative power of memory. A river is never in the same place twice. It swallows up experience and spits out secrets beyond rational measure. Like the metaphors used for emotions that either flow or submerge, the river's code is deciphered in the floods and recessions of memory.
In "The River Speaks," a near-decade-long survey of his painting and sculpture, Andrew Castrucci repeated the image of a fishhook, investing its bare form with associations that ranged from the emblematic anchor of faith to the barbed needle of an addict's desire. At sentinels to Castrucci's show, real feshwater eels thick as an arm tumbled with sinister abandon in a tank sparsely furnished with rock and a few aquatic plants. The eels introducted an obsessively thoughtful series of somber oils on canvas, some of them mounted on sheets of metal, as an elaboration on a theme of the attraction and danger of Castrucci's New York: the night skyline defines the city's form and the river serves as silent witness or, seen in another light, the city is a body and the river is its veins.
Castrucci inverted a looming, nocturnal oil portrait of the Empire State Building, Upside-down (1997), to sugest its resemblance to a hypodermic syringe. He extended his reverie on the wages of sex, drugs and the city in other skyline portraits and in such dreamy memento mori as Condom (1999), in which the reductive shape floats on a dark ground, its reservoir distended downard, engorged like a sea cucumber and glowing beneath layers of luminous varnish. This formal, dead-on device recalled in a larger painting, Light bulb (1999). A recumbent forged-metal sculpture titled Fish Hook (reclining nude), 1998, further identifies barbed fishhooks as darkly crucial objects on a human scale while remaining needlelike in composition and intent. With the somber, undulating porayal of Water Surface #1 (1994), Castrucci completes his basic list of associative concerns whiel literally capturing this subject within a large jar of Hudson River water, its green sediment slowly shifting.
Castrucci continually relates his forms to one another, inscribing an elongated fishhook sinker across the field of a diagrammatic painting titled They installed the blue lights (1993). The shank extends through a horizontal line of schematic dashes. Both shank and line are in turn struck through by a diagonal, recalling the harmonious proportions of a golden section. A spray-painted fishing linesnarls across the painting's surace. At the top of the painting Castrucci inscribed the phrase, "They installed the blue lights so we can't see our veins." In these cryptic paintings, he objectifies the city's darker forces by giving them both form and name.