New Work. What Life?

art, art criticism, artforum, artist, contemporary artist, gallery, Luigi Monteferrante, visual arts

Below, my most recent work. It has been quite a while since my last post. I have been busy painting. While painting, I listen to podcasts from BBC and WNYC, or I listen to rock music on Virgin Radio. I take frequent breaks for tea, prepare lunch and dinner, teach five hours a week, try to go for a walk in the evening on the seaside promenade literally steps from my house, and go to bed thinking about what might my next painting be. That’s it. I can’t even read in bed, or elsewhere, because I need to shut my eyes, shut down, and dream or envision things, scenes, plot lines, scenarios. And I need to sleep.

I suppose I should go out a bit more. I was out on an errand up in town a few days ago, and on walking on the main street,  what words suddenly came to mind?

Wow, world.

Yes, there is a world out there, as real or fictitious as these, each a stage wherein you play your part.

And move on, or move aside.

Today, though, I am taking a little break. I sketched my next painting, but instead of putting on my work clothes, I put on my running gear and went jogging on a sunny beach. No podcast, music. Just the sound of the sea and a northerly breeze.

I noted the colors – sea, sky, waves. They might go into this next painting.

I jumped over a sea monster emerging from the shore –  driftwood too large and immersed too deep into the pit of sea and sand to pull out and drag home.

I ran on, this sea monster impressed upon me, a possible feature of a future painting in another country of the mind, one with its own mythologies I may create one day.

But for now, other priorities;  I have to cook ragu’ for my signora, after which I am teaching for an hour.

Since I am up in town, I will certainly stroll about Piazza Rossetti,  maybe take some pictures, cross paths with acquaintances, stop for a chat.

Yes, join that world, the real world, grant myself the time today to grasp, feel, act and move in clean new clothes, an ironed shirt,  crisp trousers, polished shoes to remind myself I am a character, minor, in a larger picture.

But life is in these miniatures …

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Purgatorio

art, artist, contemporary artist, gallery, Luigi Monteferrante
Luigi Monteferrante in Caravaggio mode.

Luigi Monteferrante in Caravaggio mode.

One day, one day without painting, was hell – no, but purgatorio, si.

Yesterday, work on the house had me assisting the bricklayer and plumber, and so I was on call for errands, cleaning, and moving furniture back and forth. Nothing heavy, nor tiring, and with small talk, the morning passed by easily enough.

By afternoon, however, the realization that I had nothing in mind, body, or spirit regarding my next painting had me feeling wretched, my mind not a blank, which conjures a clean, fresh, bright page, canvas or screen; instead, a thick, turgid, muddy green/grey swamp dully bubbling at an ever-decreasing rate and temperature.

My body, too, began to creak, my muscles   growing taut, my spirit sluggish, dull, a smoky fog as heavy as a lead mantle.

The day’s work done, I walked into the night by the sea, head slung low, the only rumblings the crash of waves ashore. So, too, dinner and after, a quiet evening of dull despair and emptiness failed to bring deliverance.

I woke up at 3:09, ready to plug my ears with a BBC podcast when suddenly a vision.

A vision.

That is: two consecutive, successive visions.

Clear, perfect, two bodies of work delivered bedside.

La notte porta giudizio, says an Italian proverb, night brings wisdom.

And something more. Levitation. And the exit sign out of Limbo.

Ambition

art, artforum, artist, artreview, contemporary artist, gallery, photography, portfolio

Ambition, the painting I posted on my first twitter Yesterday, came to the fore. Of all the paintings I might have posted, it was not a painting I chose at random. It summarised how I felt during the period which led to this new series of paintings. What was I going to do? Paint? Paint what? Take pictures I would manipulate and publish in my photography portfolio at www.luigimonteferrante.com? I wanted to do something different. But how could I do something different – think, act, ponder, create anything different with these same hands, heart and soul? The solution: Ambition. A man holding a knife stands behind a man who is seated. The former will presumably murder the latter. Brutus/Caesar. CEO and his right-hand man, the CFO. Father and son. Buddies. A jealous husband. There are countless reasons for murder as we learn from history, literature, film, the news, TV drama. Nor are our own inner rage and deeper instincts immune to murderous conflagration, but in Ambition, the Ambition of late has taken on a wholly new meaning: murdering me, or killing one’s self to overcome one’s elf. No Nietzchean Superman, or comic strip here, but dying to become an Other who is one day stronger and better than Yesterday’s. No more, no less. At each sunrise/sunset, the maker of a new fate. And so we proceed as Merlo Ponti across Blackbird Bridge, working title of this Lasalle/Montreal series of paintings, singing Ridi, Pagliaccio. And laugh as we paint.

Ambition, from The Blue Room, 105 x 75 cm, acrylic on wood, LMonteferrante

Connnecting Parallel Lines

art, artist, contemporary artist, gallery

I started a new painting. No big deal. I have started and finished about 200 paintings. On wood, canvas, paper.

Most are in the garage. One’s in Perth, Australia; another’s set for LA. Twenty or so are in a couple of locales. Most are here and not going anywhere fast.

The point is not what I have painted, but I am going to paint next. That is always the point. On occasions, on finishing a painting, I was stumped for my next, but it would come soon enough. In a dream, or a daytime vision, or from the support itself – plain white paper, wood board, canvas.

Not knowing what next to do was and is unpleasant; to date, the restlessness is/was shortlived.

I thank the  Muses and the Great Unknown.

I always tried to do something new. It is, and was, important not to repeat myself. A new stage, new characters, a new visual plotline and story.

About two weeks ago, the next painting appeared in its entirety, but so did the second, and third, and the entire series seemed to expand like a deck of flash cards which I would have to accurately and hurriedly paint.

Life gets in the way, so two weeks passed, and I only started today. Back where we began. In more ways than one.

I never moved to Italy.

I stayed in Lasalle, followed a dear old friend to art school, but he dropped out to follow a maestro, and I stayed on to complete my studies.

Never gifted at drawing, or painting, I read much and widely, much more than any of my classmates, and did well on my exams. I also happened to write relatively well. There was no great competition. The class of visual art students were not big Readers and were largely uninterested in the written word – unless it was backlit with neon!

I enjoyed studying; combined with writing extensively with notions picked up from the texts assigned, and many more besides, I did well on my exams.

That my life drawing was weak, my perspectives surreal, my shading unlikely was largely overlooked.

I was also well-behaved, engaged with professors before, during and after class, and was pretty much liked.

Teachers liked my enthusiasm and scope – and would start skimming through my papers after page five, my answer to question one, for example.

Thanks to a teacher, I found a part-time job at an arts supply store located downtown. I worked Thursday and Friday from six to nine, and all day Saturday.

I needed the job because my family had moved to Italy without selling the duplex, but I was lucky they still allowed me to live in the bachelor’s, a one room semi-interred flat in Lasalle.

Tenants occupied the two upstairs flats, the rent forwarded to my parents’ Italian account. My flat was free, of course, but I would have to attend to maintenance and small repairs.

Still, I felt lucky. Having a roof over your head, a place to live and work, paint and study, was no small thing and I was grateful.

Of course, I broke my mother’s heart, my sister cried, and my father thought they should have stayed in Canada anyway. But they left.

I finished school. Cegep, that is, and went to Concordia. I continued my studies: art history, art education.

I knew I would teach. I wanted to teach. And I started teaching in Cegep, having completed my MA.

I liked being in school, life on campus, smart colleagues, bright students, the competition, the desire to outshine your peers with publications, exhibitions, notoriety. Sure, that was all good.

I wrote reviews. There was no point in reviewing bad work, lending a spotlight to an artist that did not deserve the attention, and so I persisted in featuring works I did like, artists I enjoyed, thought interesting, intriguing, deserving.

The community, being small, in Montreal, I won the tiniest notoriety when first one artist, or gallerista, then others, were noticed for not being reviewed by me.

The ignored struck back by reviewing my own art, not ignoring, but writing a bad review.

Writing a bad review, not a review about how bad my art was, but the review, the writing itself, was bad. Bloated, hyperbolic, abstract, incomprehensible, or so insightful it hurt the author, if nobody else. A game, nothing more, nothing less.

And I was amused. I was teaching, but kept my job at the art supply store. I liked walking the aisles, being ho-hummed by a would-be costumer looking for a specific brush, or paint, or instrument, or advice. The occasions would sometimes lead to small talk – life, art, the hardships, the joy – and sometimes these would lead to friendship, relationships – deep and long, brief and intense, and as likely, one-night stands.

After work, I would walk around downtown, sometimes with colleagues, often alone, go to shows, and inevitably meet with students and former students, struggling artists juggling ambition, craft, ego, vision, careers and aspirations.

A pint of bitter was my drink and I raised a few in the endless talks, discussions that finished late into the night, and always left me exhilerated and exhausted.

Back at work, sooner than wished for, it was only after  four or five late-nights that I would begin to suffer, and so it turned out that I’d be home on a Saturday when everybody went out.

And Saturdays I would start on a new painting in the bachelor’s where I am now painting: the bachelor’s.

The Bachelor, acrylic on wood, 95 x 106 cm. First of a series.  About: www.arteluigi.wordpress.com

Wanted: galleries.

art, artist, contemporary artist, gallery

I have only been painting since November 2013, having spent all my years writing long bad novels, a few plays, one produced in NYC in 2011, some good short stories and lots of good, perhaps, very good poems, many of which were published.

But then something happened.

I went into hermetic mode. I needed silence. I tired of setting words in a pile, putting them into order, fashioning characters, background and backstory, twisting plots and creating drama, tension, and a satisfying finale. Words, words, words. Basta.

I started painting full-time in near-total retreat.

What to paint?

Images emerged at night, while sleeping or during my waking hours, unexpectedly. Or they simply appeared to me in all their completeness and finality directly from the blank canvas, or more commonly, primed or unprimed wood board.

Once I had a good body of work, I started writing galleries in cities where I could depend on friends to have me as their guest, if I did get an exhibition; and if I did, I could count on them to show up with friends and friends of friends: London, Montreal, New York, Toronto, LA, Philadelphia, Brussels.  Closer to home: Milano, Rome, Bologna. And then, Holland, Germany.

I had hit upon the Artforum list and tried them all. Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Estonia.

But no luck.

Some replied they were not taking on any new artists, and some never wrote back. Simply not interested.

Meanwhile, I had a group show at Palazzo d’Avalos in Vasto, where I live, and a solo show at the Politecnico di Milano university in May 2013. I was also accepted for a group show in Ireland, to take place in November, and I was really looking forward to returning to Ireland, but the gallery was damaged by an inopportune flood, the show put off indefinitely. Sigh. During the summer, though, Galleria Ramundo, Vasto’s only commercial and longstanding gallery, decided to put two of my paintings on display. A hotelier friend who organises cooking classes and Abruzzo tours at Palazzo Tour d’Eau in the hilltop town of Carunchio also suggested a show, especially as he caters to mostly American clientele who might appreciate contemporary Italian art.

But by the end of the summer, the fifteen or so paintings were all still there. No sales.

All the while, I kept painting constantly, grateful to my muses, and the great unknown that granted me the time and opportunities to dedicate myself  wholly to painting full-time, and during intervals, who would I contact?

G-a-l-l-e-r-i-e-s.

Then an acquaintance called. An architect,  she has a beautiful little studio she has used for exhibits, and would I like to have a show? Sure.

Solo Exhibition

Date: 20-23 December 2014. Location: Piazza San Pietro 16, Vasto. From 6 pm.

And you’re all invited.