Archive for November 6th, 2009

de chirico_mysteryA turning point for me when I was first stumbling around with my own painting was when I encountered the work of Giorgio de Chirico, an Italian painter of darkly toned metaphorical works.  He lived from 1888 until 1978 but was primarily known for his early work from 1909-1919 which is called his Metaphysical Period.  Metaphysics is  devoted to the exploration of what is behind visible reality without relying on measurable data.  Very mystical.  De Chirico’s work after 1919 became more realistic and less appreciated.  It is the work from this earlier period that defines him.

I was immediately drawn to the work.  It was full of high contrast, with sharp light and dark.  The colors were bold, bright and vibrant, yet there was darknessde-chirico-the-great-tower implied in them.  The compositions were full of interesting juxtapositions of forms and perspectives.  It was a visual feast for me.

At that time in my own painting, I was still painting in a fairly traditional manner, especially with watercolors.  That is to say that I was achieving light through the transparency  of my paint, letting the underlying paper show through.  It was pretty clean which was fine.  But it wasn’t what I was looking for in my work.

Seeing de Chirico’s paintings made me realize what I wanted.  It was that underlying darkness that his work possessed.  Almost a grittiness.  I immediately began to experiment with different methods that would introduce a base of darkness that the light and color could play off.  My work began to change in short order and strides forward came much quicker as a result of simply sensing  something in de Chirico’s work that wasn’t there in my own.

Perhaps that is what is meant by metaphysical…


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