The amalgamation of painterly traces that comprise the pictures of Bernardo Siciliano and Vincent Desiderio can be divided into two categories: those made in the heat of perception and those constructed from a conceptual approach. Although both methods result in images that are high on the spectrum of the “reality effect,” and both display an urgency of execution, they are founded on different premises. The different nature of the premises and their mutual goals in the terminus of “realism,” highlights and important aspect of the potential for meaning.
The paintings of Bernardo Siciliano imply a ferocious will to see and record. They are unadorned by finery, presenting, as it were, jus the essential facts. They are brutal in both their scrutiny and the limits which the artist imposes upon himself. Yet, though empirically driven they seem overcome by a sense of visual panic. They are haunted by nagging suspicion that, though everything in the optical field has been accounted for, there remains an inelectable other that drives the imagination beyond the quotidian.
Vincent Desiderio’s paintings, by contrast, are conceptual constructions, inventions born of and obsession with the indexes of western arts painterly grammar, particularly those concerned with the conflation of perspective, form and reason. His paintings are complex artifices built and invented rather than perceived. They are painted for the most part from memory relying on shards of visual information organized to heightened plausibility. As pure inventions they are free to engage in the vague indeterminacy of the ineffable. Nonetheless, their “reality effect” is unmistakable.
Here lies the crux of the matter: On one hand we have a painter who is determined to represent the visual field with unrelenting exactitude. On the other is a painter who resists the perceptual model of representation in favor of pure invention. Both approaches result in a powerful optical verisimilitude.
Nonetheless, where we would expect to experience a highly symbolic demonstration steeped in the metaphysical (Desiderio), we are held by the restraint of reason to terrestrial focus. On the other hand, where we are prepared to witness the harsh unadorned reality of pure perception (Siciliano), we are launched into a deep desire for the ineffable other. The irony at play, demonstrates the complex relationship with two kinds of narrativity at work always and everywhere in the conjuring mind of a painter: the dramatic narrative (or subject matter) vs. the technical narrative (or the methodology of creation).
The painterly traces which result in the final surface are encoded, as it were, with information well beyond the scope of the image depicted. Here lie the principles of organization according to which an image evolves through the movement of paint in such a way that preserves the curious evidence of the various stages of its existence. In this way the technical narrative lays bare the thought and intention of the painter.