Award from the Plein Air Salon

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Allegory: Persephone, oil on linen, 60cm x 100cm. Courtesy of Michael LaConte Gallery

My painting shown above won the Best Overall Oil award in the recent December, 2015/January, 2016 bimonthly PleinAir Salon competition. The judge was Gary Haynes, the owner of Haynes Galleries of Fine Art in Nashville, TN and Thomaston, ME.  The picture is currently available at the Michael LaConte Gallery in Chicago.

The introduction of photography profoundly changed how we perceive images in general.  A homogeneous focus over the whole picture plane, visual distortions and haphazard compositions are only part of the problem.  A photograph mechanically isolates a moment in time.  It is inherently tied to our experience of Time as is the moving photo, i.e. cinema.  The psychological impact has been enormous.

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The strength of painting is based on a symbolic power of the image that is not limited to linear narrative.  Every element of a picture gains significance when the formal elements of design: line, color, value and subject, come together for a common purpose.  That aim is expressing something of the eternal in relation to the subject.

This painting depicts Persephone, the goddess of the spring.  She was the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, and Zeus.  Her eventual abduction and marriage to Hades made her also the queen of the Dead.  For those not familiar with her myth, more can be found here.

Persephone is shown bridging the two worlds of light and dark.  She offers a sprig of grain to the living world with a setting sun as leans towards the nether regions of Hades.  Her weight is sustained by a ruined bust of Demeter, a symbol of the mother’s grief as the goddess of spring reigns in the underworld.  It was Demeter’s entreaties to Zeus that led to the intervention that resulted in the eventual agreement of dividing Persephone’s time between the realm of the living and the dead.  The result was the creation of the 4 seasons.

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Her story is more a right of passage than a tragedy.  In antiquity, Persephone was the a divine representation of the terrestial bride.  The numerous votive offerings found in temples to attest to this.  Above is a famous Pinax from Locri depicting the groom Hades with his bride.

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The hope is that this painting can be enjoyed and ‘read’ on many different levels.  A lot of work, effort and emotion was put into creating a piece that it is rich enough to survive the test of time and enjoyed in the future.

Great painting strives to represent the ‘eternal’  by removing temporal restraints of traditional narrative in order to touch the divine.

 

Concordia

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Concordia, bronze, copper, lead, and alabaster, 35cm(h) x 15cm(w) x 20cm(d)

Above is a recent bust that I have finished titled “Concordia.”  It is bronze with copper inlay lips and eyes of alabaster with lead irises.  I modeled the bust in clay and retouched the wax and then completed all the chasing and finishing in bronze.

My choice of subject is inspired by the Roman deity Concordia.  She is symbolic of social concord and representative of the Greek idea of Homonia.  The visual expression of concepts fascinates me.  In addition to being judged by our physical appearance our actions condition how we are percieved.   Daily choices, usually guided by a personal ethical code, determine our public persona.  Ideally we are living personifications of value systems we choose to follow.  Concordia is an exploration of this idea.

Inside the statue I glued a series of notes that I collected from the Badia in Florence.   They come from the New Testament and promote harmony and peace.  This added level of meaning reinforces the formal aspects of the sculpture.

 

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Dry fitting the eyes

 

Enrico and ”Boreas”

A selection from
A selection from “Boreas,” oil on linen, 70cm x 110cm

The images shown are from a recent painting that I completed.  The title is Boreas, which is ancient greek for the north wind, or commonly known in Italian as the Tramontana.  You can find more about the north wind here.  To learn more specifically about Boreas, click here.  One of the Anemoi, or wind gods, Boreas brings the cold winter.  Enrico, the model, shares many of the characteristics of the north wind.  He is dressed in a heavy leather jacket and holding a pipe that just went out.

La Tramontana, oil on linen, 70cm x 110cm
Boreas, oil on linen, 70cm x 110cm

A constant problem in sharing my oil paintings is the difficulty of taking a decent photographs.  My technique, a distinctly 17th century visual approach, uses a lot of translucent glazes and scumbles that the camera simply doesn’t read.  To capture some of the subtle halftones I am forced to F stop down to the point where all the darks melt together.  As a result my oil paintings therefore are not very ‘photogenic.’  However the purpose of painting is to create unique objects/images that are experienced in person and enrich the viewer over time.  The fact that my oil work rejects technological recognition is ultimately part of my purpose.  The capability of human vision is much greater than the machines created to emulate them.  The quality of art(figurative) should never be measured by the false paragon of the photograph.  Otherwise we forfeit the stuff of poetry that it is made of.

Detail of the hand
Detail of the hand

Venus Pluvia

Venus Pluvia, terracotta and pietra leccese, 45cm(h)
Venus Pluvia, terracotta and pietra leccese, 45cm(h)

Here are some photos of a recent sculpture.  The title is Venus Pluvia.  That is latin for Venus of the Rain.  Venus exiting from her bath covers herself from the rain.  This is the terracotta model that I have mounted on a base of pietra leccese: a sand stone from the Puglia region of Italy.  I will soon be starting work on the bronze version.  Let me know if you would be interested in one of the limited edition.

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A Bit of Imagination

Metamorphosis, oil on linen, 30cm x 40cm
Metamorphosis, oil on linen, 30cm x 40cm

The paintings above and below are some small paintings that I created from my imagination.  ‘Metamorphosis’ is pretty much completed(which is hard to see due to the poor photographic quality).  ‘Bathers’ was damaged by fire while in progress and I am still working on it.

Exploring my imagination is why I chose to be an artist.  It would be a shame if all the sacrifice and hard study resulted in a mere set of copying skills.  There is a fixation within the figurative art world of ‘getting it right.’  Very often this admirable goal is solely associated with a literal copy of an existing model.  However, it should be so much more.

A quality work of art functions on many levels.  It is the sensibility, accumulated culture and bravura of the artist that determines how rich a work of art can be.  A good work of art is a catalyst that ignites a reaction in the viewer.  The world around us is beautiful because it is a representation of something greater.  Merely copying objects ignores that.  By taking solace in imitating what we see the risk is we negate the primary purpose of art: creating something significant.

Michelangelo Buonarotti sums it up”The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Michelangelo Buonarroti

Bathers, oil on panel, 30cm x 40cm
Bathers, oil on panel, 30cm x 40cm, in progress

Below is a torso study that I created for a birth of Venus.

Venus Study, terracotta, 18cm(h)
Venus Study, terracotta, 18cm(h)

Interview with Rodrigo Canete, Part II

Eros, bronze, 45cm(h)
Eros, bronze, 45cm(h)

The ideas from the first part of the interview are developed even further.  I am really enjoying the conversation.   The link to the post can be found here.

Maggie Kruger of M Gallery of Fine Art reposted it on her blog.  So it can be found here are well

Ceres, bronze, life-size
Ceres, bronze, life-size

Love Art Not People

Dionysus, graphite on paper, 30cm x 40cm
Dionysus, graphite on paper, 30cm x 40cm

The art critic/dealer, Rodrigo Canete interviewed me for his blog LoveArtNotPeople.  The above drawing of Dionysus/Bacchus caught his attention and it’s iconography is discussed in depth.  Starting a dialogue with Rodrigo has given me a bit more hope about the future of contemporary art.  He is intelligent, highly cultivated and sensitive to what is really important about Art.  Being an expert on Velasquez can’t hurt either.

His questions were well observed and catalysts for greater discussion.  It was a real pleasure doing the interview.  Hopefully our dialogue continues!  Please check out his blog.

The interview can be found here.

A Couple of Imaginative Drawings

Dionysus, graphite on paper, 30cm x 40cm
Dionysus, graphite on paper, 30cm x 40cm

In conjunction with the figure drawings, I have completed a couple of imaginative studies.  The one above is of Dionysus and the one below is of a Faun.  A work of art should function by itself without much explanation.  My particular interpretations are meant to express a specific psychological state within the context of the represented archetypal subjects.  Obviously a certain knowledge about Dionysus and ‘Fauns’ enriches the experience and makes the psychological ‘play’ all the more interesting.

Pensive Faun, graphite on paper, 30cm x 40cm
Pensive Faun, graphite on paper, 30cm x 40cm

These are not typical (stereotypical) depictions of their genre.  That is because they are misunderstood.   The realities of the classical pantheon represent a psychological investigation that are ever more relevant in today’s world where the individual’s odyssey    has lost its significance.

Happy New Year!?!

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