Welcome to our first installment of "Under the Surface," Pryor Fine Art's Artist Q&A series, where we take a peek into our artists' work, lives, and inspiration. Our first interview is with new gallery artist, Madeline Denaro. Pryor Fine Art (PFA) will be introducing Denaro's work starting May 14, 2010. Let's get started!
PFA: Tell us about your background. Where did you grow-up? Your family?
DENARO: I was born and raised in the Bronx, New York of Irish Catholic parents and educated for the first 12 grades by the Ursuline nuns.
PFA: How did your background influence your career?
DENARO: My mother was very visual, and always explored the use of color and design in everyday living. I think this influence combined with my father’s strong mathematical and mechanical mind instilled something that became very essential in me.
PFA: At what age did you become curious about art?
DENARO: My first creative instincts were in fashion design and my first drawing skills were fashion sketches.
PFA: What artist(s) has (have) had the biggest influence on your work?
DENARO: I always had an affinity to the figure and at one time I was actually an academic figure painter. During those formative years I was greatly influenced by Rembrandt, Goya, and Vermeer. Later I earned great respect for medieval and Byzantine art. I would love to go to the Metropolitan Museum and absorb. When I started to abstract the figure my biggest influence was Frances Bacon. It was only later that Matisse, Picasso and so many others started to open my awareness of their search. Abstract Expressionism was my influence in general and Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, William de Kooning and Mark Rothko were always idols. I would say in my formation that I was most influenced by artists Richard Diebenkorn, Eva Hesse, Antoni Tapies and Joseph Beuys.
PFA: What inspires you? How do you stay inspired?
DENARO: I am involved in the study of Eastern Philosophy, especially the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff who has greatly influenced my being and definitely my art. It is through allowing oneself to be open to more of an intelligence in the whole of oneself that inspires the way that I work.
PFA: What do you need around you while you are working in the studio?
DENARO: I don’t begin with any graphic nor do any ideas concern me. Actually I shun all visual concepts at this time. The palette is also secondary to the art making and during this stage may change several times. The drawing, as an additional medium, is incorporated during the act of painting and is very much an active element in my repetitive process of adding and subtracting - as I build, destroy, erase, paint over. As the work evolves and the painting starts to take on a certain presence, the color is reconciled, form emerges and I feel that a communication starts to be buried within the surface of the piece.
PFA: What is your artistic philosophy?
DENARO: My work does not entail any social commentary nor is it a statement on the way we live. It does not concern the hollow aspects of our civilization but the mystery of its existence. To allow something that I do not control to have an action, to allow oneself to bring this action into a materiality…..this is my subject.
PFA: What is your favorite traveling experience?
DENARO: I have been fortunate to have travelled extensively and I currently show internationally. What is my favorite experience is yet another question. I loved taking in the history and culture of so many countries from Australia, to Singapore, Hong Kong, through Europe but my most powerful experience was entering a small gallery in Hyde Park, London and being struck by the overpowering work of Catalan painter, Antoni Tapies. I was so overwhelmed that I actually sat down on the gallery floor, seemingly to try to freeze that moment. The impressions of that experience are still with me. So with all my visual awareness through travelling, whatever that artist was able to touch was something much deeper, much more essential than I was able to absorb in life.
PFA: What do you most enjoy doing while you are not working?
DENARO: I think an artist is always working even though it is not necessarily consciously. Life’s impressions are always there. I have a wonderful husband and family whom I love and enjoy and two feisty Jack Russell terriers and a Siamese cat…..all who make up a large part of my visual and emotional world. I am involved with the study of philosophy which evolves into the study of oneself and all this comes together when in front of that canvas, drawing, or sculpture.
PFA: If you weren’t an artist – what would you be?
DENARO: ...a brain surgeon.