Curated Shows: Eros
April 1 - May 6 Opening Reception April 1, 6 - 9pm
In Fernand D’Onofrio I find everything I love about art and artists, particularly the self-taught artist, who travels a difficult and often lonely path demanding extraordinary personal discipline, self-generated creativity and critical perspective. I feel both privileged and compelled by celestial mandate to represent his work.
This new series of abstract mixed media shows the clear influence of Asian art and history, but doesn’t begin or end there. World travel – with its dislocations, unimaginable sights, sudden, steep learning curves, and daily lessons in timelessness have long inspired D’Onofrio, who has traveled and exhibited across Europe, Japan, Northern Africa, the Middle East and United States.
His work is not to be constrained by terra firma either: When French astronaut, Claudie Aigneray was allowed to carry a few personal works with him on board the space station MIR, the only one he chose was a Fernand D'Onofrio.
The ecstatic liquid shapes that animate these new paintings seem to me to be captured in mid-air, somewhere between the artist’s brush and the canvas, spiraling, torn and flung in a series of proto-expressive moments.
It is as if D’Onofrio is painting – indeed, glorifying – the acrylic paint itself, in truth, a subject of intense analysis and inquiry for the artist since 1986.
By the mid-1980s, D’Onofrio developed serious health problems likely caused by paint thinners and other solvents. In his rage at having to abandon his artistic arsenal – imagine your life threatened by the very thing you love! – D’Onofrio destroyed the paintings in his possession and wrecked his studio, abandoning it for a full six months, before seeing his way back.
One mid-night he began to work again, using synthetic paints this time, and resolving to turn his studio into a laboratory to test the limits of his new medium, a mission he follows to this day.
Perhaps for that reason, the French titles use terms related to science and self-governance – formulation, centrifuge, theory, autonomy – to describe each of his dramatic images in its suspended singularity. He has further described them to me as exploring “the natural elements which constitute our world and supernatural manifestations” – what I might call the bare bones of imagination.
As a painter as well as a gallerist, I am thrilled and humbled by D’Onofrio’s devotion to craft as well as revelation, high standards upheld only by great masters, in whose brave company I place him.
André Martínez Reed