White Rose

As a young man at college I was encouraged to accept the notion that art could only be valid if it somehow "pushed the envelope". To be avant-garde and new seemed by far the most important criterion to my professors. However, it seemed to me that once that art-historical time line ended in the late 60's with the minimal artists and the final blank white canvas, then the whole idea of artists making marks on canvas should have ended along with it. As we all know it didn't. For me, that began to erode the power that the so called "Avant-Garde" held in my thinking about my validity as a realist painter and opened the door for new ways of thinking about art along with my own self- respect as an artist. 

The question for me then became: Why was it so important to be an artist? If not the new, what was my work to be about? 

Initially, I was insecure about the answers that I slowly felt forming inside me with each new painting I completed. Allowing the work to talk to me, I began to be aware on a conscious level of something which was always there intuitively: that my work is mostly about the exploration if beauty and the space we make for its contemplation. In a world where the ugly and violent seem increasingly more intense, the exploration of beauty and serenity, not as escape...but as antidote, certainly must be as valid a reason for making art as any other. 

Earlier on, when I felt that if the finished painting was beautiful and special to me, then I succeeded no matter how difficult the journey might have been. As I learn more about the process of painting, I'm finding the process has its own beauty.... that of becoming, so that painting itself can be seen as a metaphor for what is best about life.

Tony Chimento

© Chimento Studio Inc. 2012