Artist's Statement by Frank Vurraro
"Art for arts sake is an empty phrase. Art for the sake of the true, art for the sake of the good and the beautiful is the faith that I am searching for. " George Sand
My most recent work appears on the surface to be an imitation of 19th century art. Although I admit that I paint somewhat like dead people, I maintain that this is but one episode in a larger adventure.
Some of my earlier adult influences, after the usual academic study, were from the abstract expressionist painters; consequently I became quite interested in the kinetic energy of gesture, exploration of surface plane relationships, and the warping of plastic space. These influences continue to appear in my recent work, but are now in concert with an entirely different worldview.
About thirty years ago, I began to search for more order and tranquility in my work. The 19th century writer, George Sand, speaks about this search more eloquently than I. "Art for arts sake is an empty phrase. Art for the sake of the true, art for the sake of the good and the beautiful, that is the faith I am searching for."
This search led me to make more minimal abstract images. This format was to me much less aggressive and more pleasant at the time. 1 was looking at the paintings of Mark Rothko and was quite comfortable working in this manner for almost ten years. I began to see toward the end of that period the elements of nature appear in the work. Atmosphere, water, earth, the horizon and the panorama of landscape were becoming more evident.
The first of the more literal landscapes began to emerge about ten years ago. In the beginning they were quite ethereal, still maintaining some of the mystery of the earlier minimal pieces. This was a transition period during which the seeds were sown for the present works.
'Eight years ago the forms began to be more clearly defined often by dramatic light and shadow patterns. I began 10 make more drawings observing the elements of nature more closely. Although I had not become a plein air painter, I was definitely a plein air person and quite ready to listen to Georgia O'Keefe's words. "Still in a way nobody sees a flower. Really it is so small, we haven't time and to see takes time. Like to have a friend takes time."
I then began to scale down the size of most of the work. This seems to have helped me to develop more cohesive compositions as well as a sense of intimacy. I have completely abandoned any reference to manmade objects in the work. The objects in nature serve as metaphors of what 1 believe to be spiritual truths. 1 was quite taken by some stated goals of Henri Matisse. "What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which might be for every mental worker... like an appeasing influence, a means of soothing the soul..."
HMMM, I like that! It sounds like a comfortable old sofa. Maybe I am becoming a couch painter? In any event my work is becoming more and more a reflection of my connection with nature and my relationship with its creator. I listen to the words of Albrecht Durer. "Never make the mistake of departing from nature, imagining to do it better by yourself...for art is embedded in nature and the artist who can extract it has it."
I certainly do not feel as if I have it yet, but the work speaks of my journey to find it.
One final thought...
Sonnet by Michelangelo
"My unassisted heart is barren clay that of its native self can nothing feed: of good and pious works thou art the seed, that quickens only -where thou sayest it may: unless thou show us thine own true way, no man can find it"
Father. Thou must lead.”
"Skies, hills and river valleys evoke 19th century landscape traditions in Frank Vurraro's works..." New York Times Reviewer Phyllis A. Braff