La Grande Voglia Dell'Alfa by Jonathan Centeno

"Toes in the Sand" 40" x 48" mixed media on wood panel

"You and Me by the Sea" 40" x 48" mixed media on wood panel

With today's record high temperatures, spring fever is on everyone's mind. I need my old Alfa back. Or maybe I should get a new one.  Or maybe not. Whatever.  The air is thick with nostalgia today.

My nostalgic pieces, pictured here are done in the same manner as the Icon Series.  They are mixed media on wood, deliberately stressed and varnished in such a way as to evoke feelings brought about when viewing roadside signage in the fifties and sixties.  Whether you were on the way to the beach alone or with a group, the signs seemed to shorten the trip.  By today's standards, they might have, at times seemed politically incorrect.  I believe they were rather free of politics, and more concerned with the moment, and the happiness that could be experienced.  Nonetheless, it sometimes is better to look back through rose-coloured glasses and imagine that it all came up Elvises (ELVII?) and Marilyns.

Let me be the first to wish everyone a truly fabulous PRIMAVERA!

CIAO,

Pietro

 

"Toes in the Sand", 40" x 48", "You and me by the Sea" 40"x48" available through Hazelton Galleries, Toronto, Miami

Blue Blood by Jonathan Centeno

Blue Blood : Back to the Future 40" x 48" mixed media on wood panel

Blue Blood : Back to the Future 40" x 48" mixed media on wood panel

In the painting commissioned by my son, three rising stars are depicted as the central protagonists in the newest chapter of the Blue and White story.  They are the future, and they are surrounded by the spirit of cup winners of the glorious past.  The history of the franchise is there in victory, and only in victory.  Brief moments of cup glory engulf the eager, young hopefuls. They are in good company, with simple homage being paid to the teams that toiled from 1967 to 2016 with a noble, white graphic leaf which seems to be a fading footnote.  The past that the young guns look to is not found in those years, and not in that particular crest.  The future they seek is reflected in names such as Apps, Armstrong, Bower, Clancy and Keon. The history of those crests is scattered throughout the piece in blue.

They mean no disrespect, and they too; bleed blue.  They seek the cup.  Nothing else will do.

Blue Blood: Back to the Future,40x48, mixed media on wood panel, commissioned by R. Adamo

by Jonathan Centeno

Absolute Beginner   46" x 56" Mixed media on wood panel

Absolute Beginner  46" x 56" Mixed media on wood panel

In the composite of the late great artist pictured above, I regarded the project as an honour, and treated it with the respect I believe is appropriate in examining a figure whose work has touched many lives, including my own.  It is never my intent to simply capture or convey, but to work toward a new end, a new image.  The title is from a less popular lyric (Absolute Beginner) but an entirely appropriate one to sum up the true experience in the creation of any work of art.  The blank canvas, or the blank music sheet, or perhaps the raw block of marble- all are daunting, all call the artist to task. The butterflies in one's stomach must accompany the creative process for the magic of art to happen. One should always feel like an absolute beginner.  One should continue to fall in love with one's art, over, and over again.

Many thanks to the collector who now owns the piece, and who, in some ways made it happen.  The piece is in a private collection, and so the privacy of the owner shall be respected.

As for my part in all of this?  I've nothing much to offer.  I'm an absolute Beginner.

Billboard Boss by Jonathan Centeno

Billboard Boss 46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel

Billboard Boss 46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel

Imagine a seventies summer's day, cruisin' down a Jersey turnpike, Stingray's top down with the radio blasting out Born to Run.  A billboard ad catches your eye and you think, sh*!, I wish I had my camera!  The worn out images of the Boss are barely hanging on through the time-tested barrage of the elements.  For you, it's practically like coming across the Shroud of Turin.  You stop the car to pay homage.

The image of the Boss is etched in acid green, purples and pinks, all worn in but still flashing some brilliance.  The background screams Born in the U.S.A., and your mind's auto- response is a somber "Glad that F*!#'n War is over."  

But you know it's never over.

Flash forward to present day.  The mirror hands you an image of a man who's barely hanging on through the time -tested barrage of elements. You whisper to yourself: "Lord, thanks for the Sixties and Seventies, the soundtrack of my life." You went out for a ride and you never went back.

 

 

by Jonathan Centeno

Once Upon A Silverscreen (Audrey Hepburn) 40" x 48" Mixed media on panel

Once Upon A Silverscreen (Audrey Hepburn) 40" x 48" Mixed media on panel

I am overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response to the Icon series.  Nothing new here.  It has all been done before.  Or Has It?  Whenever I was approached by the self-defeating "It's all been done before" by my students, I would simply respond with "Yes it has, but not in your unique style".  So I will continue to paint the Icon series, in my unique style, always with an eye toward fine art, and a presentation that distills the essence of the persona, illuminating strong qualities that might be overlooked in commercial, fan-club and popular imagery.  I let subtleties in mood created through colour and placement of motifs create a new picture of the individual.  In Who New?, Andy Warhol's hair is not the shock gold-silver colour expected, but a glamorous pink setting off an entirely different vibe.  In Taxi Driver, the entire composite of De Niro is rendered in black, Payne's Grey, and white.  A rather sober colour scheme for the serious actor for the ages.  The central concern for me is the painting.  It is, after all, just that.  The stressed wood panel suggests old-fashioned billboards of a bygone era.  The resulting nostalgic patina is appropriate in that we always seem to see these figures as "once upon a rose-coloured time".  They are always in the glorious past, even if they are still living.

Malaparte: Cielo Rosa by Jonathan Centeno

The Giardini Series has been a vehicle for transmitting emotion, through colour and texture.  The subject of this blog is the latest in the series.  This one is titled: Malaparte: Cielo Rosa.  The piece came about after October the 14th, the day of my daughter's wedding.  Yes, I am the lucky father who walked the aisle with my beautiful daughter on my arm to "give her away" to a fine young man (I can't think of an elegant way to say this so please forgive me- I also truly feel we have gained another son). Our hopes, dreams and wishes for our children often seem to be at odds with reality, but sometimes, like on October 14th, the stars align.  I could not think of a better way to preserve the intense happiness that we felt  that day as parents than to express it on canvas. The setting was ultra-modern, sophisticated, and in keeping with times- but the truth is, in a very old-fashioned way, two families simply gathered together in celebration of their children's nuptials.  A time-honoured tradition as old as the human race itself.  Is there a better excuse for a party? The weather was perfect, culminating in a rose-coloured sunset sky.  The venue was perfect (Malaparte) but mostly, the protagonists, were and are, perfectly suited for each other.  A lifetime of happiness is definitely written in the stars

Like A Rolling Stone... by Jonathan Centeno

46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel

Nobel prize.  LITERATURE.  Well deserved-but it seems so obvious to those of us who have lived with, and sometimes by his words.  It is fitting that his words, possibly more than his music will endure.  The ghostly image of this soul who set the tone for a generation is haunted by his own words and incarnations in the image above, called Invisible Now.  

Winning the Nobel, probably the most "establishment" award one could think of- well, now you got no secrets to conceal...How does it feel?

Invisible Now 56x46 mixed media on wood panel, available through Hazelton Gallery, Toronto.

 

La Porte Rouge by Jonathan Centeno

Title:"La Port Rouge"

Title:"La Port Rouge"

I finally got the chance to visit the Maritimes.  Cape Breton, Louisbourg, the Cabot Trail, PEI, Fundy, Halifax, Lunenburg, Peggy's Cove.....well, it was certainly inspirational.  "La Porte Rouge"  (54x54 mixed media on canvas) is my first response to this magnificent, hauntingly beautiful part of Canada.  It is concerned with the vastness, the rough and smooth erosion of the rock surfaces, and the earnest resolve of the original settlers as represented by the colours against the predominantly gray and white background.  The coloured areas come directly from the painted wooden simple vessels and dwellings.  They hold their own against the dominating background.  They bend, but do not break.  La Porte Rouge is just that- derived from a tiny dwelling on the Atlantic shore near Lunenburg, 

angled against the wind, surf and rain, it's brightly painted gables and doors weathered and worn- and more beautiful because of it's story.

Often, abstraction reveals a clearer truth.

Post Matrix by Jonathan Centeno

title: Post Matrix size: 48" x 48" x 1.5"  medium: mixed media on canvas

 

After the Big Bang (really?).  And if there is or ever was a logical, organized mess as this universe evidently must be according to whomever you wish to quote,  then what of the moments immediately prior to the BB?  Was it a logically organized situation packaged into a sub-sub-sub-atomic nano nano particle?  Was it some sort of mathematician-pleasing matrix?  Or was it- GOD (Heaven Forbid) And what did it look like in the immediate moment after the BB?   When it all began to expand, seeking freedom as it unfurled...I imagine the post-matrix to have been as beautiful as it was chaotic........

Post Matrix Series available through Saatchi Online Gallery,  Hazelton Galleries,  Gallery 133, Crescent Hill Gallery, Frame of Mind Gallery.........

A Day In The Life by Jonathan Centeno

I read the news today oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph.
He blew his mind out in a car
He didn't notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They'd seen his face before
Nobody was really sure
If he was from the House of Lords.
I saw a film today oh boy
The English Army had just won the war
A crowd of people turned away
but I just had to look
Having read the book.
I'd love to turn you on
Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
And looking up I noticed I was late.
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke,
Somebody spoke and I went into a dream
I read the news today oh boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.
I'd love to turn you on......

by Jonathan Centeno

Tempesta D'Amore

Encounters

     Tempesta D'Amore and Encounters were two pieces from my private collection which is, on an ongoing basis, featured on Saatchi Online Art, under Pietro Adamo, artist.  The pieces in this collection have adorned the walls of our homes, and some still do.  Our lifelong friend, Dawna would stare at two particular works which "spoke" to her, both on a professional and personal level.  As a long time top realtor, it is easy to understand her interest in the moody,atmospheric "Encounters" which hints at possible chance meetings and relationships in the big modern metropolis of today.  The colour, division of space and hint of what I like to refer as "Classic Italian Old Film Elongated Proportion" render this piece in a somewhat romantic light.  That it should wind up in a dear friend's personal collection is deeply rewarding, especially since she virtually examined it whenever she visited our home- and she is a person who definitely knows what she wants.  Again, I want to emphasize that I believe this choice was rooted in her intellectual (very) and professional side. 

    My instinct tells me that Tempesta D'Amore tugged at her heart strings.  Her personal story contains more triumph over adversity that I am at liberty to discuss.  I have no doubt that the sense of optimism that happens as a sudden storm passes, which is suggested in the piece, was a factor in her attraction to Tempesta. I know that the viewer may interpret the ascending forms as anything from horses to dragons but I assure you, there was no intent.  My mood that day in the studio was relaxed, and yes, triumphant.  I had finished an especially tedious commission successfully and felt I needed to move on.  The evening prior I had watched documentaries on Goya, Velasquez, El Greco and the Golden Age of Spanish painting and I recalled my visits to the Prado and to Toledo.

There is no doubt I had a Goya moment in the emotionally charged Tempesta.  Any person familiar with the wildly beautiful brush strokes of Goya can easily spot the influence, even if this work is pure abstraction.  I needed a title- as I stared at the azure, cream, emerald and crimson- but nothing seemed to resonate.  The phone rang.  It was my elderly but still very relevant mother who informed me she had just watched a moving episode of her favourite current soap opera which was titled Tempesta D'Amore.  

Encounters and Tempesta D'Amore are now in the private collection of D. Borg.  I can sleep, knowing that two of my personal favourites are much loved.

Some Licks by Jonathan Centeno

Click image to enlarge

In the 46x56 mixed media piece "Some Licks", it is not hard to tell who the apples of his eyes are.  They do comprise him, after all.  In the crazy vibe of the sixties and seventies, all that seemed to matter outside of protest marches was the pursuit of love or perhaps to put it more succinctly- satisfaction. Yeah, we did it all, and it's all been done- but not like this.

Seems to me he got some.

"Some LIcks" by Adamo,

Available through Hazelton Galleries, Toronto, Miami.

Enjoy your summer!

 

Unbreakable by Jonathan Centeno

"Cie. Unbreakable"  2016, 56"x46" mixed media on wood panel.  Collection of C. Sanita

I am happy to say that I have survived a rather tumultuous period in my life in matters of health-truly the one real matter of critical importance in life.  We all pass through challenging phases and hopefully come out better, wiser, stronger.  Sometimes our lives are in sync with those of our heroes, those whose lives seem to soar above the mere human condition, and those from whom we derive inspiration ( Courage...it couldn't come at a worse time).

We are reminded of their humanity.  We are taught that it is how you deal with it that counts. You actually have no choice, do you?  You are in the here and now, and you must deal with it.

During the past few months, a pressing commission for a dear friend, mentor and source of inspiration kept me distracted enough, engaged enough so as to make my health issues seem almost secondary.  My trials appeared to become irrelevant when I thought of what she had been through in her life.  An auto accident had claimed the life of a soul mate, and had left her for dead.

She survived-only to be told that she would never walk again.  She was, literally and figuratively, in pieces.

Years passed, and she miraculously endured, and after walking again, and rebuilding her life as a successful designer, builder and business woman, a terrible illness took the life of a second soul mate.

She credits her family and friends for their support in keeping her focused and able to move forward again-but those who know her-they understand that her courage comes from deep within.  

I grappled with the notion of an unconventional portrait.  I toyed with the idea of a classical one.  I felt I needed to tell her story in an instant, at a glance, in a flash.  The type of life-changing instant that one cannot erase or alter.   The haunting image of a flash whose blinding glare stays with you throughout time.  I needed  to seize the terrifying beauty of such a moment.  The terrible truth, in all it's glory. 

Her telling trademarks had to be present- the freedom wings, the hauntingly beautiful gaze, poise and defiance.

The name of her enterprise is Cie.  Design and build is what Cie is concerned with.  Cie is her vision.  Defiant.  Poised. Elegant. Unrelenting.........  Unbreakable.

 

 

Trionfo by Jonathan Centeno

What's in a name?  What's in a title?  If I wanted to write novels to accompany my paintings, then perhaps I should have chosen to write or to paint with words, as it were. 

But there is something inherently dangerous about painting, especially abstract painting which distinguishes it from the process of creative writing.  The very nature of painting without a preordained direction or intent leaves the artist and his audience vulnerable. It is a record of action.  Sometimes it reveals subliminal thought through this record of action.

In the painting above, a 54x54 canvas (scale is important here) called "Trionfo", there was but one intention at the outset: to make a painting.  That's it.  Nothing more. That it tears a piece of my innermost conviction and hangs it out to dry is a by-product of the process of painting.

It's a chance one takes.  And then you give it a title, if a title becomes apparent.

See what you will see.  I can deny it all I want (after all, I am called Pietro), but there is no denying the art. It's all in there.

Enough said.

See what you will see.

by Jonathan Centeno

A very particular commission for a very particular lady.  The most interesting commissions involve personal storylines, whether from the past, or the present.  The models for these pieces represent a decade perhaps unique in outlook, as the economy seemed to know no limits, and events such as 9/11 were out in the distant future.  The 80's were akin to the roaring 20's, seemingly indestructible, and carefree, if not outright careless.  The soft tones, dominated by pinks, coral, grey and sea foam seemed to be everywhere.  Ah, if only we could go back-just for a moment, to relive it!  Don't be sad it's over- be glad it happened.