Sojourn in Italy, by D. "Darteo" Sommese

The "Sojourn in Italy" exhibition comprises over 50 works of which I chose 16 to put on this sampler. This show has not been exhibited yet. It reflects the influence of my year long stay in Rome, Florence, and of course the wonderful Italian painters of the last 500 years. I, like my ethnic and spiritual ancestors, the Italian painters, am interested in people and the beauty of the human form.

The Renaissance in Italy re-awakened interest in the human form and three dimensionality in painting. The philosophy of Humanism brushed aside the dark veil of the middle ages to declare that humans were created in the image of God himself . Reasoning if this were so, no aspect of the human form could be considered ugly or evil.

Using this newly emancipating philosophy, the Renaissance painters and those thereafter painted with gusto the Greco-Roman myth, the Christian narrative, and portraits of the rich and famous. All this I have been influenced by, and mirror in my own work. The portraits in this show reflect modern Florentines and Romans in contemporary dress, the titles of these portraits reflect their roots in Renaissance portraiture, titles such as, Modern Mona Lisa, Modern Madelena Doni, Modern Madonna dell' Impanata and so on.

The Christian narrative which comprises a large part of Italian painting was a great influence on my work. I could not help being moved by the suffering and pathos in the work and relating it to our own time. The work in the second and third row of the "Sojourn in Italy" sampler sheet reflects this influence, without an exact reference to the specifics of Christianity. This same pain, suffering and spiritual questioning are still part of our everyday modern life.

The last row of the sampler sheet comprises what I call my Tabloid Press series. Which was a series of about five or six paintings taken from the pages of the Italian tabloid press easily purchased on news stands all over Italy, which may be said to be of the same calibre as our own Star or Inquirer. I was fascinated by the aplomb at which modern Italians accepted nudity in their daily life, so different from our own Puritan influenced American culture.

The tabloids freely printed photos, clandestinely snapped by paparazzi, of persons of renown in the nude, as they sunned themselves in the privacy of their summer get-away spots. I quizzed the local residents as to what the attitude was of those people caught this way . There were no lawsuits, no outrage, most seemed to feel like it was nothing more than a nuisance or a joke, or maybe had the feeling that he or she, with their picture in the newspapers, had finally "arrived'. To my thinking, I felt it was in keeping with the work I had been doing, so I appropriated the images from the tabloids and the Paparazzi and made them my own, transforming the newsprint images into Fine Art. -DDS

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