MFA Thesis Exhibit

Francesco Gattuso

Alfred-Düsseldorf Painting

Candidates for MFA degrees in Ceramic Art, Electronic Integrated Arts, Painting, and Sculpture/Dimensional Studies are featured in a series of culminating thesis exhibitions.

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Artist's Statement

Drawing on Mediterranean folklore, customs, and mythology along with Abrahamic stories and high fantasy imagery, my work aims to address issues of identity and being “other” within predominantly white spaces in the United States. I use personal experiences, storytelling, illustration, and symbolism to address the complexities of individual identity versus shared identity and how these can clash, such as being from a “white” community but being a non-white individual. Often times this clash between communities or belonging to more than one leaves a person feeling alone, unwanted, and unaccounted for within society.   

My works make use of watercolor and colored pencil along with the inclusion of decorative borders. The use of watercolor within my paintings allows for translucency as well as creating an ephemeralness within the environments, objects, and figures. The combination of these elements permits the viewers to place themselves within the work to create their own scenarios. Borders within my work act not only as decoration but also as a formal element to help structure composition. 

The symbolism within my work exists through objects, characters, environments, gestures, and color.  The reoccurring male figure in all the works, the Imposter, is a caricatured version of myself. This Imposter exists in dramatized scenarios where he takes on a demonized persona, an internalization of self-hate projected onto the individual along with his own privilege. The Imposter is often seen using Mediterranean hand gestures that set undertones of the paintings. Humanoids and monstrosities are seen throughout the work existing with the Imposter in one of two environments: a wild and chaotic jungle where danger lurks or a domestic space filled with its own challenges and terrors. The monstrosities and bestial figures within the work are all depicted with features stereotyped as belonging to the white community. The dehumanizing of the white community is a reversal of what is commonly seen but not limited to visual arts, high fantasy novels, and cinema. Ultimately I hope to spark hard conversations about social privilege within our society and where individuals sit within that spectrum. 

watercolor painting Click to view watercolor painting Full-Screen

The Horns
3" x 2"
Watercolor, colored pencil, acrylic, gloss medium, pearlescent powder, and gold leaf on panel
2020

watercolor painting Click to view watercolor painting Full-Screen

Voyeur
3" x 2" 
Watercolor, colored pencil, acrylic, gloss medium, pearlescent powder, and gold leaf on panel
2020

watercolor painting Click to view watercolor painting Full-Screen

The Den
3" x 2" 
Watercolor, colored pencil, acrylic, gloss medium, pearlescent powder on panel
2020

watercolor painting Click to view watercolor painting Full-Screen

Four of Arrows
3" x 2" 
Watercolor, colored pencil, acrylic, gloss medium, pearlescent powder, and gold leaf on panel
2020

watercolor painting Click to view watercolor painting Full-Screen

Imposter
3" x 2" 
Watercolor, colored pencil, acrylic, gloss medium, pearlescent powder on panel
2020