Die Strassenmaler is a Swiss-German (German language) documentary done a couple of years after the National Geographic. It shows some of the development of pavement art in those years. I created the work below, entitled “Reflections” was done for the documentary, and the artistic process is shown in the video.
The documentary also shows the lifestyle of the pavement artists while the art form was just starting to become popular and more respected. It was still very much a folk art in Italy. The costumed figures were a group of young people specialized in reconstructing the costumes of the great Gonzaga family that ruled Mantua as dukes for several centuries. The video also shows pastel making and other techniques that I was introducing to pavement art.
The last Supper was an all-time successful piece in Europe. It was always a bit of an interpretation, as Da Vinci’s original is in such a bad state that the figures are not very clear.
A couple of years ago I made an image of the center figure of Christ image for a one-man show at the Friday Harbor Museum of Art. I wanted to show the kind of traditional imagery that was used by pavement artists. There are actually not many simple, classical devotional images of Christ. Some of the most popular images have actually been cut out of larger works. I used a robe and position similar to those in Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper, but the portrait part is completely original. Iconic images are made to help the devotee into a meditative state, for this reason they are restful and quiet.
This image, along with others, is on display at the Andrea Smith Gallery in Sedona, Arizona. The gallery specializes in sacred works from a wide variety of traditions.
The Queen of the Night is a character from Mozart’s Opera, The Magic Flute. She first appears appears and tells the prince Tamino that her daughter Pamina will be his wife if he can rescue her from Sarastro (Recitative and aria: “O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn” / “Oh, tremble not, my dear son! You are innocent, wise, pious”). The Aria can be heard here, sung by Luciana Serra, a singer I heard myself in Naples in 1984:
I created this work in pastel as a fine art edition. The figure is reversed from my original painting so that it may be paired with the Papageno print. The pastel gives the work a lighter, more airy feeling than the oil paint. The work can be seen at the AFA gallery in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. The address is below:
While still very young I was the featured artist in National Geographic’s documentary, Masterpieces In Chalk. The film won many awards and helped to resurrect and spread pavement art across the globe.
While working on the street painting for the film, I had to confront the nature of my own creativity. I wanted to demonstrate that I was capable of inventing original compositions on the spot, so I deliberately didn’t make any sketches for the piece I was to create. I had been accused many times by onlookers of copying Renaissance paintings, and the public often refused to believe that I created my own unique original compositions. Creating an original work of art is novel in the world of street painting, and it was important to me that the director Kevin Peer captured this in the documentary. My method of working at the time was entirely spontaneous, much to Kevin’s concern, as the director he was hoping to see some preliminary drawings. It was difficult for Kevin to accept this approach, as he would have no way to know if a spontaneous creation would end up being good enough for the film. I decided to paint the Muses, which as a theme lent itself to improvisation. The Muses also symbolize the idea that even though works of art are ephemeral, the inspiration behind them is immortal. Inspiration may be lost or forgotten, but it is eternally present whether or not we are able to perceive it. Whenever I create a work of art, I can feel inspiration come through me–it is what creates the ideas behind my work; I don’t generate the ideas themselves.
In the city of Durban, South Africa, I created the final of the three illusions for Hyundai. This image had a complicated overlay that allowed people to pose in the car. Durbin has a huge population if people from India, … Continue reading →
I did this work in Herald Square right in front of the famous Macy’s department store to celebrate the anniversary of the plaza. It rained for three days of the four day event, but luckily the weather cleared up on … Continue reading →
I created this image of gulls flying over the Bosphorous for Turkey innovation week in Istanbul. On the last day I gave a talk at the symposium on, “Painting and Innovation.” Two of the other speakers were Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the … Continue reading →