Thursday, November 25

lest we forget

Family Supper by Ralph Fasanella

Family Supper by Ralph Fasanella

There are certain pictorial reasons why Fasanella achieves such a remarkable likeness. (Though these don't explain the uniqueness of his achievement.) His perspective, by professional standards, is inconsistent. It constantly adapts itself to the next sight in view; rather than being a standing static perspective, it is a walking one ... And the same creative inconsistency determines the eye-level. Things are seen either face to face as on the sidewalk, or from above, at about the height of a tenement roof ... Thus each painting offers, not an instant view, a postcard, but an amalgam of visual experience, a sequence of memories. Hence the likeness. Hence the face that those who have lived in these streets, recognise corner after corner ...

The family is Fasanella's. In the centre is his mother. On the right wall is one of his own paintings of his father, the iceman, crucified on a wall of bricks, his head clamped in the ice-tongs with which he worked. On the back wall is a second painting, this time of his mother with his sister and himself standing on chairs in front of another wooden cross, against a brick wall between window frames. Every person and object in this kitchen is a memorial to what happened within his family. But the way it is painted -- and here the truthfulness to experience of the "primitive" painting reveals itself -- the way it is painted makes everything in it continuous and entirely homogeneous with the exterior walls and elevation which surrounds it.

-- John Berger About Looking