We have a special feature this week as Patricia interviewed artist Carmelo Blandino, who studied art and design at the city’s local colleges and began a successful career as a freelance illustrator, working with architects, designers, and advertising agencies. In 2002, Blandino shifted his focus to the world of fine art. Today, his paintings are widely known for their immediacy and their sensual, even lascivious expressions of color, movement, and shape.
I was on your site and saw your sketchbook and the page noted…they say in California there are women with flowers in their Hair, is that from the Led Zeppelin song, “Going to California”? That is one of my favorite songs.
Actually that is from the Led Zeppelin song. Its the type of dreamy song that usually goes through my head as i sit and draw. Something about the way those notes were arranged that just seem to strike the right chords to get me into a creative spirit. Come to think about it , its usually there along with some other things I call head noise.:) You know how we sort of get lost in a moment where time stands still and you’re still there physically but your mind just left the body and entered that state of nothingness? That happens to me a lot. Its where most of my work originates.
There is noise in my head…. then there is nothing but space…. and upon leaving the space I re-enter the noise, this time with clarity and there it is. The next image I will paint. Pretty simple right… ?
You have several works using the iris. Does this flower have special meaning to you – or is there something about it that fuels your imagination?
The Iris has a very powerful presence as a flower. Its incredibly fragile at first glance but upon looking at it closer, it carries a lot of strength. Strong stem, powerful colors, stands upright, and has to carry an incredible amount of energy to push its way through from a seed to stem to glorious flower. Stands erect for a few weeks on its own not connected through other stems and then slowly as the life force pulls away it withers and dies returning to the earth. Just like us humans.
The parallels are very similar to us. I mean we can apply the same metaphor to animals or any other living form on our planet. I chose the flower because it tends to live in a paradox. You either like or dislike flowers. Its challenging for men when they look at my flowers. Although I can’t possibly see why anyone would not like a flower. If we remove the idea that it is a flower… remove the associations to being feminine, fragile, whatever we attach to it, we need to be truthful with ourselves and admit that its a beautiful element of nature. Its inherent beauty is obvious to even the most minute of creatures amongst us.
That’s where I come in and work the flower. That’s the interesting part for me. Its not about the botanical name or the scientific classification system applied to it. That stuff is a distraction to its truth. Beauty is what dominates it. I’ve used it often in my paintings along with the peony. The Japanese and Egyptians used it a lot in their imagery and found it had supernatural powers. Again that’s just another distraction from its beauty.
In your landscape portfolio, you stated: “There is no separation between love and nature.” I love that this theme seems alive in the fact that the lines are blurred between earth and sky, plants and water, and so on. When you paint these landscapes, are you standing in nature and painting it as you see it – or are you imagining these beautiful spaces?
These images are reflections of my understanding of nature. Nature has no distinction. It just is Nature. Period. Just like the flower every time we label a form in nature and give it a name such as sky, water, earth, leaf, and so on, we get further and further distanced from the truth of what Nature is. We start to look at it with distinction. The boundaries in Nature are non existent in its totality and depiction as something that is beautiful.
God or the universe or whatever you call it did not give us a scientific reference manual when IT created Nature. It just is.I believe that Our point of entry into nature is not through the mind but rather through our external senses. Feeling Nature not naming it. The scientific mind is creating more chaos by having to name every single living organism…it’s very practical for distinction purposes, but experience over theory will be the truth of Nature.
Once it is experienced, you have an actual realization that your body can relate to. I really emphasize the MY part here because the landscape paintings are personal notations of my walks in the woods and forests of Canada and the US. Glimpses of what I have felt. The interesting part of my landscapes is that they are all derived from memory.
Such is the strong impression nature has had in my life. Its force is so powerful and unforgettable to me that the resonance of my interaction with nature has left a permanent imprint into my psyche. I mean its in there…:) You can’t take that away from me. I can only go deeper into it.
I can sit there and draw every little leave and twig, but for me its about that life force once again that permeates everything. If we spend enough time within nature it will heal you by providing you with the space to go internally into yourself. There is little exterior stimulation when you live in the woods, except for the noises from the animals. That’ s why we need national parks and green spaces within a city…. that connection to Nature for humans is important.
After all we came from there and will one day return back to nature… the earth upon our death. Its inevitable. Might as well make friends with it while alive. If you love truthfully, you will love nature…. if you love nature you will love yourself since you are a reflection of nature. Easier said than done for some.
So, you took an interesting approach to creating portraits… you used mug shots from the local paper to create likenesses. The paintings that resulted are stunning. Can you tell us about a few of them and what you saw and what you portrayed when you painted them?
I’m interested in painting the geography and mapping of human experience,not a likeness of the person. You see, most of what we call living is embedded within our face and facial expressions. These get etched into our skin which is like a plasma reflection of out interior. If you look at humans we carry a lot of our suffering or happiness within the lines and frowns upon our faces. Our eyes speak volumes, the sagging of the lips, hair, neck…
Unfortunately today we are removing all those beautiful characteristics that speak of our personal mythology. We are removing the map of our experiences through the use of cosmetic surgery. its a disservice to man / woman as we all start to look alike. Insinuating that we all carry the same experiences, mindset etc. We don’t otherwise we would not be so unique. I was drawn to these mugshots imagery, because they carry the faces of truth.
Usually when you are at a point of having been arrested, you’ve pretty much given up all pretenses and carry your true face… or mask if you would like to go into Jungian terms. In a mugshot you have surrendered yourself to a higher truth and are revealed for what you truly are. I would go through these regularly to pick out the ones that truly were in that spot. Its a very certain look in the eye that permeates. Of course some still hadn’t learned their lesson so I didn’t choose them. I’m waiting for them to come back.
Funny story: One day upon entering a small bistro here in Naples to have some lunch, the person behind the counter taking my order seemed very familiar to me. I just couldn’t pinpoint where I had seen him. I just kept looking at him, in a rather invasive way that I could tell he was getting annoyed with me.
Once I finally sat down to eat my meal, it dawned on me that he was one of the Mug shots paintings I had painted! There he was standing behind the counter! I always wondered if I should let him know of my project.
The breadth of work you do is amazing. Flowers, landscapes, portraits, fonts – you cover each of them so well. While looking through your portfolio, I do see a lot of movement – flowers swaying or bursting off the canvas, a woman’s hair blowing in the wind and drops of rain falling from the sky. Is movement something you consciously try to incorporate, or do you simply see most things in motion?
In the day to day world of Living, things are in motion for me. Motion takes a physical speed such as in relation to the obvious time frame increments we use to measure distance and time.Practical time is what we refer to it as. The world is in movement..of course. Continual movement.Our external senses are designed to detect movement around us. We are animals with tools for survival… instincts coupled with consciousness.
Travel a little deeper and go beyond the external world and into our flesh and we are a movement of organisms and cells and biology. This movement is used to run the mechanics of the body and earth like a perfect clock.Go a little deeper beyond the cells into the mind and we are a movement with continual thoughts… almost uncontrollable.
This is the continual movement we carry in our minds of thought and ramblings ideas and so on. For some being in this place can be difficult. If I go a little deeper into My Self…beyond the constructs of the mind, where the works are created from: in that space time slows down for me.
Therefore movement is much slower in that part of experience. I see things for what they really are and my mind captures the many dimensions of truth that are shown to me yet elusive to most people because of the nature of our external sensory reflections.
Its taken a long time of external practice to understand this level of perception. That is one of the reasons I like painting so much: The act of painting brings me to that space of little movement. Time does stop for me quite often. I reach moments of stillness where there is little movement. So yes movement is dominant in my work….I paint movement from its many levels of experience.
Images in this Post provided courtesy of Artist Carmelo Blandino