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Figure Painting

             According to James Elkins in his book What Painting Is, "Paint is essentially liquid and stone."" He compares stones to pigment, which is the matter that gives paint its color. Pigment is generally obtained through the earth, stone, or plant material. Over the centuries painters have used a variety of media when attempting to represent the human flesh, including; milk, egg yolks, beeswax, gum arabic, and plasters. The Corpororealities exhibit at Cornell Fine Arts Museum displayed the age-old technique of oil painting to portray the human figure. By definition, corpororealities means; of the body; of a material nature; tangible (Lotz). In my opinion the tour de force of the exhibit was an untitled piece by Vincent Desiderio and Francis Bacon's, Etude de Corps. Both of these paintings show an abstract view of the human body.
             Vincent Desiderio is an American Contemporary Realist painter, born in 1955. His style of painting tends to be of symbolic puzzles and is similar to Italian Renaissance and Baroque painters. He created this piece in 2001; a triptych of water, a head, and x-ray (Lotz). It is a multi-paneled format with three images that relate to one another. This oil painting is rectangular in shape, 22 ½ x 44 ½ inches. It was painted on paper and mounted on wood. Although the texture of the piece is flat and smooth; a feeling of three-dimensionality is achieved by the use of light, darks, and shadows. It is an amazing example of chiaroscuro.
             The left panel of the composition appears to be a scuba diver standing in water. Blended tones and a repetition of bubbles floating up, achieve a sfumato atmosphere. The diver is dressed in white and is floating in water that has a pinkish hue. The image of the diver has a ghostly form.
             The center panel is a rendering of a male bust, which is the focal point of this work. Dramatic contrasts of dark, light, and shadows surrounding the bust creates a wonderful look of tenebrism.

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