W R I T T E N · W OR K

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WORKS ON PAPER

by Robert Ranieri, 2018

 

                            clamor chords from steel discs
            turf sliced to roll, row on row.
   horses pull taught leather straps
from forged iron rings, linked to
   bolted iron plates

            One remembers those days of farmers toil.
How they surely earned their harvest. Such work to battle
with patient yearning, the tangled trees and roots and furtive
rocks, that stymie stumbling animals that heed the farmer's call.

  With anxious hands, I pawed my way through strewn heaps
of singular metal parts found within any scattered mounds. Awe
spreads behind my eyes as more distinctly formed iron chunks,
begin to appear. These metal elements of abandoned farming parts,
were discovered, on my first visit with friends living in rural Ohio.
  Several years later, I moved from Manhattan to Pennsylvania,
having discovered a slaughterhouse, which had its own farm smells,
plus scattered iron objects; a rich assortment indeed.
  Having learned welding techniques at my uncles business while
living in NYC, I soon acquired my own arc and gas welding gear,
which were needed to make sculpture, but proved essential when
I acquired a damaged and disassembled, large spiral staircase. As
time went on, necessary trips to the scrap yard, produced much
needed structural iron and steel, as I restored and installed my
spiral stairs, and used structural I beams and plates when building.
  Curious additional metal parts appeared again, when I began the
various digging jobs, while planting flowering and non flowering
trees and shrubs, ferns and pachysandra ground cover. A varied
assortment of little treasures were surrendered to me, whose first
function would have been hard to tell.
  A major interlude within my building necessities, was reorienting
my house's entrance door. A trip to the upstate steel supplier, gained
me essential heavy steel I beams, and heavy channel and angle iron.
Also acquired, very heavy 'expanded metal' (see-through) sheets, in
order to construct a semi-transparent entrance deck, to be joined
with the sculpted front steps. An entirely new relocated entrance.
  Many a time was spent in abject silence, wondering how I was to
proceed, in the furthering of my work. A necessary human state.
Prayer and song; by now sufficiently internalized. A rescue.
  Knowing my parents struggles, I could learn to appreciate how
they dealt with personal trials. My father's father, said to have
cried out in sleep, as arthritic pain in his hands disturbed him. He
spent years by his forge and anvil. This shaping of quality steel
tools, required streams of cold water during cooling periods while
sharpening, once the orange bright metal had been duly formed.
  Also in view my mother's father, who as a construction engineer
would have been physically engaged while directing his team of
workmen, tending the roadwork and water supply systems high up
in the mountain town of central Italy.

  Works on paper became a suitable intercession that helped me
formulate my artistic modus operandi. Unless I would have toned
the paper a priori, painting on a white field permitted manipulations
that gained distinctive shapes which could be transfigured at will,
knowing that my growing personal lexicon would be ample and
specific.
  A primary shape that emerged on canvas, and exploited in some
of the on paper works, is the half circle; drawn from my looking
at breakthrough architecture, the masonry arches of the Etruscans,
and the very flexible vault and stunning dome and exedra systems
created by the Romans, enhanced by their invention of concrete
and various building techniques.
  The appearance in certain works of a quasi figure eight shape,
allowable when the half circles above and below, sometimes join
together obliquely. This may generate a starting shape to contain
a head; or any other basic object, for further action.
  We will realize that the head as subject can be an easy fix when
it is derived from mere academic sources, especially when based
only on photographs. Notice how the typical features of the heads
on paper, reveal a display of signs and structures that denote shifts
in meaning. Systems and symbols,  here on display.
  Metal cutting tools gave me great flexibility. Found metal objects
that I processed with severe cut and weld techniques added to an
ever expanding body of choices. Since I had saved some junk,
ideas could be germinated in surprising ways. Sharp wood cutting
tools that I used to spread paint, became helpful in recalling metal
cutting techniques. Sharp plastering tools could also move paint.
  Signage shown in works on paper liberated me from the easy
'cliche,'as to what a portrait can be and reveal the formation of
personal archetypes I discovered, while working my expressive
modes, that remains for me an abiding principle. Of course, one
can paint things in, but also, paint stuff out, an aesthetic in itself.
  I have been directed to places perhaps not understood by others.
Being uncertain at times has been a necessary state. It is not just
a romantic impulse, but the need to be rewarded with something
original, despite the degree of difficulty encountered.
  Some of these works demonstrate diverse paint brush handling.
Brushes used engender varied results. Scumbling, dragging,
stippling; dry brush, loaded brush. Also stencils of my own design.
With the use of stencils, I gain sharp demarcations, that avoid
certain typical results. Stencils can deliver a quick imprimatur
image that can recall a draped torso, an arcane head, a section
of quasi transparent architecture, or a grouping of graphic letters
like figure effigies in motion. Note stenciled marks as sounds.
  "Were E're You Walk, cool gales shall fan the glade...", a song
of distinguished English sensabilities, composed by the great
master, (emigre') from Germany, Handel; brings to the fore a
consciousness, an awareness that we all experience relative to
a particular time and place, especially of a positive nature.
  Or consider Robert Frost's poem about 'two divergent roads
in the woods.' He took the road less traveled.

  We are all creative. When are you in this state?  An artist is
responsible, (and exposed), by each manifest result within the
creative process itself.
  At times, a simple shape may be started as a quasi sober color
painted without any inflexion, but may be quickly modified by
sharply incised detailed constructs of crisply and carefully
drawn interlocking forms, enhanced by using the color black.
  Perhaps starting out as an ear, it is now turning nicely into
a mouth. Or first intensions may not have anything understood                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
as anatomical. This freedom of execution has been the result
of my decades long immersion within a varied subject matter,  
the situation at hand, be it studio oriented, a construction
site, or a landscape architecture issue.
  If I felt specific steps were required, I would develop tactics
and techniques appropriate to advance an aesthetic that would
induce satisfactory results.
  One learns to navigate within the parameters set when issues
occur as dictated by the medium itself.  Much learned and also
earned along the way.
  Remember to "Follow the yellow brick road."


 

 

 

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