Artist Madeline Denaro talks Eastern Philosophy’s influence on her artwork, creative first instincts, and what is next.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM AND WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?
I was born and raised in New York (Bronx) of Irish Catholic parents. I currently live and work in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AN ARTIST? DID YOU GO TO ART SCHOOL?
I think I have always been an artist of sorts. My mother was very visual, and always explored the use of color and design in everyday living. I think this influence combined with my father’s strong mathematical and mechanical mind instilled something that became very essential in me. My first creative instincts were in fashion design, and my first drawing skills were fashion sketches. I attended the South Florida Art Institute with a Fine Arts degree in Painting and Sculpture. Traveling to Europe often as well as independently studying in London and Germany helped me enormously in my formative years.
HOW HAS YOUR WORK TRANSFORMED THROUGHOUT THE YEARS FROM WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED?
My first love in art school and for many years later was figurative painting. I started abstracting the figure in the early 90’s and using much mixed media and metals to the work. The pieces were as much painterly sculptures as they were sculptural paintings. The lure of organic form eventually replaced the figure completely although figurative gestures still seem to flow from my brush.
HOW MUCH OF YOUR ABSTRACTED COMPOSITIONS ARE LEFT TO CHANCE?
I describe myself as a “process artist” meaning that I “follow” where the art process leads me. This mode of working allows for the art to be constantly evolving. I only plan the size of the piece prior to painting. Other than size, I don’t intellectualize, plan ahead, know the palette, etc. Everything comes in the moment in the state of working.
CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR PROCESS OF CREATING A PIECE?
Painting for me is a form of engagement, an engagement within the process of painting. There are no visual elements as I approach the work. I don’t begin with any graphic nor do any ideas concern me. Actually I shun all visual concepts at this time. The palette is also secondary to the art making and during this stage may change several times. Drawing, as an additional medium, is incorporated during the act of painting and is very much an active element in my repetitive process of adding and subtracting – I build, destroy, erase, paint over. As the work evolves and the painting starts to take on a certain presence, the color is reconciled, form emerges and I feel that a communication starts to be buried within the surface of the piece.
WHAT DO YOU WISH THE VIEWER TO EXPERIENCE WHEN LOOKING AT YOUR WORK?
I wish for the viewer to not only interpret the visible, but to allow the work to have an action – to receive what is passed to the viewer. This bypasses analysis and enters one directly.
DESCRIBE A TYPICAL DAY IN YOUR STUDIO.
I do think that each painting is a series of ritualistic layers. I start by stretching the canvas, layering gesso, which is the primer of the surface, and then the actual application of the first layers of paint. There is something in this self – preparedness that I find necessary before I start the work. If someone else prepared the canvas, it would not be the same. It’s all part of “the birthing process” of the work. No days are the same – one day I may be doing more structural or preparation work, and another day I may engage mostly in the act of painting. The business of art needs to be incorporated as well. This includes photographing the work, maintaining my website, and dealing with the galleries’ needs. There needs to be a structure and aim to each day in the studio.
WHO DO YOU ADMIRE OR DRAW INSPIRATION FROM?
I think everything that is a part of my life has an effect on my art. All impressions that I absorb somehow have an influence on the person who paints in the moment. I am involved in the study of Eastern Philosophy, especially the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff who has greatly influenced my being and definitely my art. Allowing myself to be open to something Higher and much larger than myself inspires my work.
WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU?
I honor Dimmitt Contemporary Art for such a strong commitment to the Arts. Kathy and Bailey are favorites and it is my commitment to make our bond even stronger in our future together. It is great to have their support and encouragement in my endeavors. I have several upcoming shows so I am constantly producing new work. I believe that as soon as I have some down-time, I plan to start a series of small sculptures. With all my art I allow ideas to percolate, then I will start to feel what medium I will use for this new venture. It’s a mysterious process, but that’s how art is.