Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, Gianlorenzo Bernini, do these names ring any bells? How about Nicole Scherzinger, Angelina Jolie, or Kate Middleton? Which set of names rang louder?
This isn't a psychoanalysis test in progress, nor does this have to be. In this age of celebrity media moguls, there is no way to deny the presence that stars play in our lives and the effect it has on our culture.
Now, let me introduce you to a name you should know, Antonio Matragrano, an artist hailing from Cosenza, Italy, the same country home to the talents of Botticelli, Da Vinci, and Bernini. Well past the Renaissance and Baroque era that Italy had dominated artistically, in the year of 1958, Matragrano was born. As a young man, traveling and spending time in Germany, Canada, and the United States he was inspired by a prehistoric form of street art, the graffiti of the caves of Altamira and Lascaux, which led to an appreciation of contemporary artist and legend, Jean-Michel Basquiat, so deep that Matragrano credits Basquiat as giving him the strength and inspiration to pursue his artistic endeavors.
This pursuit has found Matragrano to be a successful, talented, and interesting artist. In 2005, he began developing a body of work that beautifully and eloquently draws from classic Italian iconography mixing with modern day celebrity images. He uses these contemporary Icons to represent women's transformation from primordial source of life into divinity.
This interesting approach to female appreciation has caught the eye of director, Nicholas Deorsola, who used several of Matragrano's abstract paintings in the 2009 film, VORREI VEDERTI BALLARE, translated as "Let Me See You Dance."
Matragrano's thoughtful utilization of cultural phenomena, knowledge of prior artistic greats, and exciting fusion of aesthetically pleasing work meets controversial art leaves me eager to see his current inprogress project, a major exhibition dedicated to all women, "The Paradise of Contemporary-Icons."
By Clarissa Burt with Shelby Larson