In the Garden

Oil on Canvas 60X48 Inches

Oil on Canvas

60X48 Inches

I am a student of painting and always will be. I am not afraid of exploration and then change, I don’t particularly believe in specialization for an artist. As a pre-teen wandering the galleries of the Art Institute of Chicago I copied and learned from the European impressionists, eventually discovered the anxious pop objects of the American School. Through Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, I discovered Marcel Duchamp. Via Marcel,entered the Dadaists/Surrealists doorway and I encountered there European written Philosophy; Antonin Artaud, Breton, Sartre, Freud, Nietchze. European literature opened my mind like never before.    At 16 years, after Saturday morning classes I was invited into The College of the Art Institute of Chicago on scholarship.( summer of 1968 ,the democratic convention ,Chicago was burning and bleeding just outside in Grant Park) I was taught to draw freehand, via old classic techniques. These were rigorous sessions, and the teachers were demanding and critical. Old world Professors who insisted there is no other way and did not give a damn about a student having his own style, they gave no quarter to an original approach. It was expected you were developing personal stylistic proclivities and a mental life of your own; these had little to do with accurately proportioning the human figure. You were there to learn how to draw and tone form (sadly this approach to teaching studio art is all but vanished).   Color has always been instinctive to me. I was in touch with my own way from a very early age and had produced dozens of paintings before stepping foot in a museum or a class. I seem to have been born with it and when My father brought paintings home from Paris(Left Bank )and Rome I knew what I was going to do with my life, much to his astonishment. It is astounding what a single morsel of stimuli can do to a young mind. The impact has lasted to this day. I was launched by those paintings mannered after Degas ,VanGogh and the local hero Buffet (far from great paintings but seldom do I encounter a painting devoid of quality).What I had by birthright was awoken could not be impeded or taken away. I did not have to defend it or insist on it, it was power and it protected me from the uncertainties apparent in my peers. I felt anything was possible. Art was a vast uncharted continent and I was given a Range Rover at birth. Onward, I began to realize, I was shifting. I was learning to draw and paint from the other cerebral hemisphere, the objective one. This was layered over my native approach. Whether the ambience was chiaroscuro (light to dark) ,photo realism (flat lit detail) or abstraction, I possessed an energy and facility which amazed even me. Since then I have produced more than a thousand drawings, painting and sculptures and worked at considerable depth in these traditions and blends of their substrata. I spent so many years referred to as “unique and new” by teachers, friends eventually newspapers, magazines and others that I learned there was little advantage being ahead of your time.   I have always felt there a kinship in the paint handling and light of Eduardo Manet and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio although 200 years apart, I learned from them both. There are numerous exemplary works  to be found in ROBERTMANGO.com(see “Vessels”,” Jewel of the Adriatic”).  This brings us back to “In the Garden”, My innocent muse stops to water the sunflowers while bathing. Ok I am a romantic and this picture suggest a naiveté’ which is real to me. My alternate reality is not film or television; it is the history of painting. I have found the best historical insights into the psyche of those who inhabited previous centuries is depicted most trustfully on canvas. The artist or culture that looses its naiveté may be doomed. We remain children in the Garden… of Eden.