October 10, 2009 - January 10, 2010
Nationally acclaimed local artist Tony Luciani is exhibiting a selection of paintings and drawings, created between 1980 and present, which reflect his own transition to rural Canadian life.
Luciani’s work is more rooted in traditional concerns than contemporary art trends and fashions. His art is representational: realistic in name yet poetic in essence. His practice is determined by the values of hard work, precise craftsmanship and a distinct imagination. What he brings into the present from the past is a set of artistic skills derived from an in-depth conceptual and technical exploration of the masters. His references are to be found among the Italian Renaissance painters as well as Jan Van Eyck and Bruegel the Younger. He admires the work of German artist, Käthe Kollwitz (1867 - 1945), Canadian artist, Eric Freifeld (1919 - 1984), and British artist, Stanley Spencer (1891 - 1959).
Tony LucianiDrawing and painting from life, from observation and from inspiration, Luciani’s streetscapes, interiors, exteriors, landscapes, still lifes and portraits are careful renderings in subtle colors and hues, lights and shadows, and they express profound visual intelligence and emotional power. His subject matter is first person driven, rich with the narrative of daily life. While he takes a real subject – a specific scene, a person, or objects – he then emphasizes or exaggerates certain qualities; takes away and adds on what he considers of key importance and creates nuanced compositions.
“Rather than achieving a photo-realistic likeness,” Luciani says, “I try to capture the feeling I get from a mental visualization of my subject. I imagine it rather than copy it. Subject matter is less important than mood and feeling, both of which come within myself. This is why I would call my work interpretive. I put so much of myself into my paintings that, in a sense, each one becomes a self-portrait.”
Before relocating to Durham, Luciani sometimes appeared within his paintings as a displaced female mannequin. Now, more settled, his work “shows the organized chaos of living in a small town, where most of the residents are recycled.” They come from other places and have done other things.
The inclusion of drawings in the exhibition is meant both to reveal the elaborate technical process that underlies the paintings, and to highlight the alternative and more experimental forms of expression afforded. While some viewers might be particularly impressed with the precision and technical mastery with which he paints and draws, others will look beyond the technical mastery and search for the artist’s soul.
As Stanley Spencer once said: “In order to understand any picture of mine, it means taking a seat and preparing to hear the story of my life.”