• Linear Liberation

    Date posted: December 16, 2008 Author: jolanta
    Creating large-scale, calligraphic-style graffiti paintings, on solid fields of mostly gray, tan, or off-white colors, Italian American artist Matthew Lauretti rarely presents an image of the complete human body. In his work, viewers often find only the face staring back  at them—in some cases, simply a pair of eyes. The bodies inhabiting Lauretti’s more recent works are fragmented and anonymous; if one were to stitch all the pieces together, the resultant image would still not reveal a picture of wholeness. Layers of paint are laid onto the paper studies with the lightest touches, while the subject matter in the large acrylic paintings is ephemeral and mysterious. Images of violence appear occasionally, intermingled with clouds of emotion and pierced hearts. Humanity finds a fractured reflection of itself within the work. Image

    Suzie Walshe on the work of Italian painter Matthew Lauretti

     

    Image
    Matthew Lauretti, TIMES SQUARE 2008 136CM x 213CM. Courtesy of the artist.

    Creating large-scale, calligraphic-style graffiti paintings, on solid fields of mostly gray, tan, or off-white colors, Italian American artist Matthew Lauretti rarely presents an image of the complete human body. In his work, viewers often find only the face staring back  at them—in some cases, simply a pair of eyes. The bodies inhabiting Lauretti’s more recent works are fragmented and anonymous; if one were to stitch all the pieces together, the resultant image would still not reveal a picture of wholeness.

    Layers of paint are laid onto the paper studies with the lightest touches, while the subject matter in the large acrylic paintings is ephemeral and mysterious. Images of violence appear occasionally, intermingled with clouds of emotion and pierced hearts. Humanity finds a fractured reflection of itself within the work. While preserving both Surrealist and Expressionist influences, Lauretti’s paintings offer a new and unique contribution to the art and culture of his times. His method is contemplative, meditative, and indulgent. His stunning works maintain a fantastical, exotic vision, even when dealing with the commonplace. The paradoxes in his work lie in the blurring of boundaries between interior and exterior, self and others, the physical and spiritual. This is a mysterious form of painting, in which art seems to return to its ancestral shamanic role. In a previous series I Territori (The Territories), painted in early 2000, Lauretti experimented with bulbous forms—some sexual in character—that derive from Gorky’s evocative brand of biomorphic abstraction.

    A tireless talent whose artistic life has always been devoted to a search for the new, Lauretti is well-known for the dynamism, poetry, and spirit of his works. His paintings are typified by their large size, luminosity, and varied use of materials. Lauretti’s own unique brand of Neo-Expressionism ranges from the characteristic shapes of Tachisme to the virtuosity of Op-Art. Lauretti, who was born Connecticut and raised in the U.S., is now based in Bologna, Italy. His international travels (specifically throughout the U.S. and Australia) have been of particular inspiration to his work. Referencing indigenous cave paintings and primitive depictions of life, Lauretti creates work that is dense with all the classical allusions of Castell de Castells in Spain and Uluru, Australia.

     Although the majority of Lauretti’s works may be categorized as portraits, his works are not portraits in the traditional sense. Rather than representing an actual person, they represent an emotion or a state of mind. Themes central to Lauretti’s work include evolution and existence, passion and tenderness. In the Sweet and Love series, for instance, with characteristic directness, Lauretti renders each portrait in dark hues, sporadic drips, and notational brushstrokes. Compensating for the near colorlessness of the eyes by adding a crimson blemish to subject’s brow, smudges of midnight blue also appears amidst slate gray around the figure’s nose and mouth. These three colors inform Lauretti’s palette, particularly in the form of languid, swirling blooms of runny paint sprawling from one side of the canvas to the next.

    Lauretti’s looping; sinuous line brings forth an intimate cosmos fraught with psychological and physical yearning. The artist has a fierce way with line as well—in each of his recent works, the viewer can watch it stutter and flow, ramble and rage with an impressive consistency—yet it never gets beyond itself. Disassociated from any corresponding sensation, experience, or thing, Lauretti’s metaphoric abstractions glisten over whatever surface they happen to occupy. Demanding that viewers leave at the door notions of what painting should be, Lauretti allows them the freedom to let feelings be the guide.
     

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