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Artist RENATO MUCCILLO’s landscapes have often been compared to those of Dutch masters and 19th Century English artists. However, Muccillo’s images remind us how frequently today’s landscape has been affected and appropriated by man and industry. We are mesmerized at first by the luxurious colours and near miraculous use of light but, on closer inspection, we notice the culvert, the pilings, the log booms, or the distant plume of smoke stacks. Even the farms that serve as subject matters of his paintings leave us wondering if they are viable or abandoned as there is no sign of human life—only the marks left behind by man and machine.
It is a curious relationship between the sheer beauty and effect of light as it hits, or emanates from, intrusive steam plumes. The radiance is gorgeous, the content disquieting. And yet we have grown so accustomed to these elements in our surroundings that we frequently overlook them, taking for granted what is actually there. Muccillo plays on that subtle distraction and steers our eye toward man’s impact on nature by compelling us to recognize, if not falsely sense, nature’s overwhelming beauty. To look upon one of his paintings is, at times, akin to being lured by the siren song of modernity in the context of wished-for romanticism. In the end, we are often inexplicably compelled to look upward to the sky and fix our eyes there, forgetting what we have left, or been left with, below. Perhaps it is for that reason Muccillo’s skies are what we remember most of his landscapes, long after we have walked away from them.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are Muccillo’s expressionist florals and abstracts. They are a shout of release, a slap in the eye needed to wake us from our soporific diversions while celebrating colour for the sake of colour alone. Their joyousness offer a sense of relief, and even rejoicing, in the storm of his landscapes and incredible versatility.