English/Pittura

Joseph Lorusso, painter of eyes

If a painting seems to be made of topsoil, honey and light then it is a Joseph Lorusso‘s work, American painter, born of Italian descent. But other most relevant components characterize his works: first of all, in his paintings there are features very close to the photographic technique. This statement may sound strange at first, because Lorusso’s paintings show a great debt to Impressionism and other art movements which are not realistic at all. Nevertheless, the great ability to capture a fleeting eye expression, the sudden glint of a feeling on the subject’s face actually recalls photography. Like involuntary expressions caught by a lurking photographer, the painted eyes show this strong feature: we can immediately decode all thoughts and emotions felt by the subjects. The paintings are particularly communicative; those eyes talk to us confidently.

Bedroom Eyes

Bedroom Eyes

Let’s take for example Bedroom Eyes. Many painters represented naked women while they are sensually lying in bed, Lorusso instead sets the focus of the erotic tension on the eyes only. Aside from that, her body is covered, and even her posture is closed. Yet the lure of those eyes is evident.

Dreamy Eyes

Dreamy Eyes

Another clear example is Dreamy Eyes. It seems to be involved with the girl’s melancholy absence and feel the warmth of wine. That glass in her hand seems not to be the first one, as it is shown by the red cheeks.

Distracted

Distracted

We find an interesting exchanging glances in Distracted. Both subjects are looking in two different directions, they are not attentive to each other.Distraction” is a term that grammatically could be related to both subjects, but, thanks to the representation, we understand that it refers to the man. In fact, although the woman is not focused on the man, she is looking straight at the viewer, she’s escaping from the scene. Awareness emerges in her eyes and, in a mixture of sarcasm, disappointment and anger, she seems to communicate us that he is somewhere else, that she is not loved as she would like to be. But, at the same time, she is firm and steady on that chair: she is unable to leave it. Only her eyes are going away.

If glances recur and prevail in Lorusso’s portrayals, there are many cases where the viewer is not allowed to see facial expressions. This often happen when the subjects are a couple in love, deeply in love. Here are some examples:

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The feelings of these lovers come out from their hugs and tenderness, but the painter didn’t dare to show their eyes, and it seems a kind of reticence and respect for deepest feelings. This is an ancient expedient, which has its most illustrious antecedent in Timante, a Greek painter who lived between the fourth and fifth centuries BC. This Greek artist is famous for the”Timante effect“: in the depiction  Iphigenia’s sacrifice, Timante depicted the heartbroken faces of Calchas, Odysseus and Menelaus, but not that of Iphigenia’s father, Agamemnon, who is covered by a veil. Cicero, Quintilian, Pliny the Elder and others Roman authors interpreted this choice as an act of discretion for a so strong feeling and they also considered it as an admission that art can’t reproduce the climax of sorrow. So the viewer is expected to resort his imagination, thus he will completing the picture into his mind. In the same way this effect occurs in paintings by Lorusso, but in far happier situations. Also the artwork involves the viewers by asking them to continue in their mind the work of creation begun by the artist.

Lovers & Lautrec

Lovers & Lautrec

In one of the paintings just reported, Lovers & Lautrec, our artist cited and honored one of his great master: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a post impressionist painter, lived in the end ‘800. The cited work is Dans le Lit, the Baiser (In bed, the kiss). The modern couple seems to be united to the other one thanks also to the condition of glances: in both cases the eyes are hidden to the viewer. But, although hidden, in Lovers & Lautrec the eyes and glances are present even than in any other painting: we watch Lorusso’s lovers, which are watching those of Lautrec, who are the only ones with closed eyes. Therefore, there is a path of vision and knowledge, which ends with the mystery of the feeling of love.

Signora con ventaglio, Klimt

Signora con ventaglio, Klimt

Another citation can be found in other paintings, such as Opera Glasses, that strongly recalls Lady with Fan by Gustav Klimt.
In this painting Lorusso is telling us what became of this woman and of art as well, from Klimt to nowadays. The young and stylish woman with fan, though haughty and pompous like her long neck, is shown as a positive figure. She is richly adorned by both cloth and wraps in the background.

Opera Glasses

Opera Glasses

Lorusso shows us the same lady, clearly aged. Under the black fur now we can see a everyday dress, indeed inappropriate to the occasion. Of all the colorful flourishes adorning her, just some gold traces on the fan still remain. Her eyes became surly, she is closed in her proud and grim attitude. There is nothing of the sentimental and emotional charm of the other woman. Actually in this work Klimt is more mocked than imitated. In fact, Lorusso conceives his works in a very different way: Klimt was the painter of the aristocratic pomp, of Belle Époque, of commissions, and he presented us mythical and aristocratic scenes, far from the common human condition; instead Lorusso paints bar patrons, couple in love and everyday scenes. He preferred the common man, his common acts, so usual, but full of all the complicated emotions of our inner world. The eyes of everyone are preferred much more than mythology and great sumptuousness. And we love it.

Dafne Castronovo

All pictures are taken from Joseph Lorusso’s official website http://www.josephlorussofineart.com/ and from his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joseph-Lorusso-Fine-Art/104157282770

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