At the core of this show are works that came directly from Luciano’s studio, intended for an exhibition in 2020 that had to be cancelled because of the pandemic. There are an additional fourteen works from the estate and the personal collection of Luciano’s widow. This is a unique and poignant opportunity to view new and unseen paintings and also to experience a retrospective survey of his accomplishment.
Born in 1942, Luciano Ventrone had a long and distinguished career, the outcome of a prodigious talent and a determined and painstaking commitment to its development. Collected worldwide, with an international reputation, he was, at heart, a thoroughly Italian painter. His practice was steeped in the spirit of classicism and the tenets of order and beauty, forged in the Italian Renaissance, particularly the Cinquecento.
Ventrone paints still lifes, the figure and seascapes. Still life is the overwhelming, primary focus of this exhibition and is the towering achievement of his artistic project. These artfully arranged assemblages of fruit, flowers and vegetables immediately reference the great traditions of Dutch and Italian practice. They are intense unions of colour, texture and contour where his fluent command of the medium makes for a bravura display of material reality. These pictures show what the casual glance often overlooks and focus on the essentially sensual, pulling our eye to the plush, velvet fragility of a rose petal, the pitted, scarred skin of a lemon, the glistening hint of moisture on a carmine-crimson cherry. They are intimately- scaled essays in appetite, mutability and decay.
Ventrone’s paintings are grounded in rigorous and relentlessly- disciplined attention to technique. He applies a forensic eye to the analysis of appearance and its translation into the painter’s language of representation. He gauges exactly the values of tone, light and colour to express a heightened sense of the real. The images are simulacra, obsessively rendered to be more permanent than that which they depict. His compositions propose succulent, mouth-watering materiality. Ideas of control and appetite interplay: we are caught between discipline and desire, our hunger provoked, all too aware that we are viewing a vibrantly realistic illusion.
These still lifes are timeless, echoing their baroque equivalents. Sitting outside contemporary diversions, they call down the years to Caravaggio, Bosschaert and de Heem. Evoking a continuum, they present the viewer with eternal truths. Ventrone shows us delight in nature’s bounty, a fleeting and fragile aesthetic of satiety and its underlying prospect of degeneration.
Albemarle Gallery enjoyed a close relationship with Luciano Ventrone and feels honoured to have aided him in his vocation. It has been a great pleasure for all who worked with him to witness the flourishing of his art over so many productive years. His remarkable pictures remain as a testament to his vision.