If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.  JFK

out of darkness, by Robert ManiscalcoSome believe art’s sole purpose is to decorate.  Others believe art is a conversation with one’s self that is really a conversation with everyone, an interactive process.  I believe great art must speak to us about our lives, our world and the human condition.  Art has the power to make us more aware of what’s happening in our world AND also be beautiful.  Artists are the conscience of society.  I believe for art to be vital, it must serve this higher purpose.  If art is truly a necessity, which I believe it is, it must not merely be a reflection of society but a call to action.

I paint in a style I call “expressive realism.”  I believe in exploring beauty.  I am a painter.  But painting pretty pictures is not my end goal.  Not to say I haven’t painted my share of typical subjects, like flowers, sweet children, majestic landscapesroadBut I think my best work goes beyond merely presenting these subjects.  My father used to say, “it’s not what you paint, it’s how you paint it.”  I try to ask, what is it about this thing that has captivated my eye?  What is it that speaks deeply to the human condition?

My work, as of late, has turned even further in the direction of having a social conscience.  As a Christian and a survivor of CSA, my work asks, what can I do as an artist to further the conversation about survival?  How can I shine a light on the triumph of the human spirit?  How can I celebrate the God-factor in nature and the beings who inhabit this Earth?

My latest series, called The Quench Project, paintings created from my recent vision trip to Haiti (November 2014), as well as an upcoming book and short film, Out of the Darkness, exploring alternatives to societal ideas about beauty, tragedy and survival.  The theme explores the resilient nature of humans to rise “out of the darkness.”

Portrait of a little girlEven in my commission portrait work I try to address the human condition.  My recent portrait of Charlotte is an excellent example of where I may have succeeded.  A work of art is like a poem, capturing in images, the wanderings (and wonderings) of the human spirit.  I want the viewer to wonder what my subject is thinking.  I want them to empathize, to connect deeply with their lives.  A portrait is a story in poetic images.  Sometimes, the story is captured in an energetic brush stroke, or a flash of light, or the way the skin glows.  Sometimes, the juxtaposition of objects, poses and expressions generate a question which compels the viewer to action.

Creating art with a social conscience is a high ideal.  It is one I have set for myself as well as a challenge to other artists.  I hope my work lives up to my artist statement.  But, as a work in progress, I am always striving to hit a higher mark or at least shed some light.

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Available works by Robert Maniscalco

 

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