Together (No. 10)

"Together (No. 10)," acrylic on birch panel, 48x60in.

For today's painting, a biggie, back to the sweaty streets of Italy. Many visit and oh and ah but few have the composure and social skills to remain and manage well, unless perhaps they're from even more community-minded places.

This painting is number 10. I write the following about the series on my website:
This group of paintings explores an aspiration to regenerate public space and be, in a real sense, a good citizen.

Not to be grandiose about it but it comes out of reading and thinking about a handful of my intellectual heroes: the urbanist Jane Jacobs, the sociologist Richard Sennett, the philosopher/novelist Iris Murdoch, and the psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl.

The common thread linking these somewhat disparate big heads is a concern for civility, uniting the head and hands in work, and beauty as vital to the life lived well.

More personally, the series represents a desire of mine to embrace—as opportunity, cooperation, fellowship—the human throng found in public venues, rather than flee from the clamour and confusion and be alone.

As coping mechanisms, the works look at such qualities as grace and sprezzatura, a Renaissance term meaning lightness of manner and indirectness of communication. The pieces consider unselfing rather than individualism as a alternative path to personal and group freedom, perhaps a more Old World, Catholic-Jewish-Muslim outlook than Protestant.

Visually, Stephan Andrews has crept in, especially in the use of CMYK colours and effort to make art both aesthetically pleasing and thought provoking. The feel of street life in Italy, where I lived in 2015-16 and whose chaotic outdoor culture I struggled to manoeuvre, especially with young kids and no car and even if my own background is Italian, has also slipped in.

There's more to come, but in meantime why not pick through the images I've completed so far and let me know your thoughts, even if they're uncivil.
To pick through those images, check out