NYC exhibit features works painted with artist’s own blood
posted at 3:53 pm on October 13, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
Like many other artists, New York painter Vincent Castiglia puts his lifeblood into his work. Unlike most other painters, he does this in the most literal sense of the term.
Castiglia’s latest exhibit, Resurrection, which opened last week and will run through October, is comprised of works of the past decade, all of which used the artist’s blood as an art medium. Blood, the artist explains in this Reuters video, contains iron oxide, a pigment found in many traditional paints and that occurs naturally in iron ore and rust.
But since all blood contains iron oxide, the question of why the artist uses human blood—and more specifically his human blood—arises. His response is that it satisfies a “need to connect with my work on the most intimate level.”
Castiglia begins with preliminary sketches in ink, typical of most painters. Then, before embarking on the final canvas, he extracts just enough blood in the privacy of his studio. The finished works are predictably rust-colored images and most often depict human bodies in some stage of decay.
An example from the exhibit is Feeding, which depicts a mother with decaying legs in a wheelchair, gazing at an infant who is nursing at her breast. Castiglia maintains that the work is meant to express the fragility of life and the hope and drive that can still accompany it. A related theme of his work as a whole, which permeates the Resurrection exhibit, is life’s transience and a harmony between life and death that he professes to see.
Castiglia’s works have appeared in popular media. One of his paintings was the basis of a promotional poster for a made-for-TV slasher film called Savage County. Another was used as album cover art for Swiss heavy metal band Triptykon’s debut Eparistera Daimones.
Castiglia bristles, however, at the notion that his art is gimmicky:
My response would be to really take a look at the content of the work, which overshadows what it’s made from, I think. In order for something to be a gimmick, it really would have to lack substance.
Larger, more detailed paintings can take more than three months to complete. The works range in price from $950 to $26,000.
Castiglia is not the first artist to gives his work (how shall one say?) a “human touch.” One of the best-known, if controversial, practitioners of this school is Andre Serrano, whose Piss Christ uses the artist’s urine to desecrate a Crucifix. The incendiary work is also currently on display at a New York gallery. Another work in this style is Andrew Krasnow’s Palette, which features a contour map of the United States made of human skin.
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