Mario Prisco Gallery Essay

The Cohen Gallery at Alfred University had on display different works from an artist by the name of Mario Prisco in an exhibit called Observed and Imagined: Works on Paper. Mario Prisco former Dean and Professor of the School of Art and Design at Alfred University is a great artist whose work is just beautiful to look at. The detail in which he pays attention to the line weight and the placement of those lines to draw the viewer through the work. There were two different styles of art shown at the gallery of his work, the first one being gesture figure drawings, while the second one was watercolors of imagined landscapes. In this paper I will explain what feelings and what style he drew in, as well as different principles that he used to get his pieces to look well.

If one is to look at his gesture drawings they would be in awe of how beautiful they are even if they are just outlines of the human body. This is because the amount of detail he put in to the different line weights. For example when looking at “Untitled 6” the different line weights of the outline of the body shows what is important for the viewer to look at which is the center of the page the crotch area. This is due to thickness and bold lines that are drawn there and away from   that area the lines slowly fade out of existence or to very light thin lines. The hands and feet are the greatest areas that show this thinness, which gives these areas the sense of lightness and elegance , like the arms and feet are not being weighed down by the rest of the body. The rest of the body is stuck or weighed down by the thickness of the lines used and how they have been fully defined as an object, while the feet and hands have not been defined fully so they are free to do as they please and are capable of moving easily.  Due to the amount of variance in the line thickness and boldness different ideas and feelings can be captured from it without adding color even though the figure is just an outline of the human body .

If one is to look at Prisco’s human body drawing that person can easily discern where the light is coming from due to the shadows he created. In all of them the thicker the area is shaded in the darker the area was. This is a simple concept, but the way which he does it is so elegant. He uses a method called cross hatching, in which one uses parallel lines and crosses them with another set of parallel lines to create a shading effect. So this allows there to be some lighter areas in the shading giving it different tones of darkness based on how close the lines are and how many there are. By doing this it gives Prisco’s drawings a more realistic feeling, while not losing the gesture or sketch feeling of the drawings. Also, this just a better way to shade when using one color to show changing levels of darkness of a shadow. For example look his work titled “Untitled 17” at the knee of the female it is the darkness on the knee as one moves down the leg it becomes lighter, due to the lines becoming farther apart from each other. This looks better than just having the area shaded fully in and having a gradient to represent the shadow. He used white to define the area that was not the female but the object that she was laying on. Since it is in high contrast with the female form it sticks out and is clearly the background or the object she is laying on. By doing this it makes this piece the most realistic and beautiful of the human body drawings.

Now let’s take a look at his imagined landscape pieces that were in the exhibit. First, off they do not give off as much emotion or beauty as his human body drawings do. What they do is help the viewer to flow through them and not look at the them as one piece, but multiple pieces even if they are on the same paper. This is due to the division he created with lines dividing the pieces into smaller sections, so each section feels like its own piece, or scene, in a larger piece.  This draw to flow through them is created not by color, by the  shapes and the lines used to create them.  Throughout many of Prisco’s pieces he would draw a diagonal rectangle in one section of the piece and then stop it and skip a section and draw another rectangle. This would draw the viewer to that section because it creates an illusion of motion with repetition of the same object in different location but same orientation. Also he would make physic lines, implied lines, with the use of shapes flowing in a direction that lead to something else in the piece. He did this with so many different shapes from fishes, trees, arrows, shadows, shapes, and so many more that it is hard to make a list of all of them. This illusion of motion is what draws the viewer into the piece of work even if the objects drawn here are not complex themselves. Motion is something that catches the human eye no matter if it’s real or not, for when a person sees  something out of the corner of their eye they would look at it and investigate what it is. This what  these pieces are trying to replicate.

Mario Prisco’s artwork is beautiful and compelling to look at, even when there is no color just an outline. The gestures drawings were the most compelling and elegant pieces to look at due to the different line weights that he put in them to show different features. The shading on them gives them a complexity and makes them realistic, without shading they would look stale and boring. The landscapes have the ability to catch the viewer’s eye due to the way shapes and lines were used on angles to create a feeling of motion. Overall his work shows that mastering the line, simpleness and basics of art is vital to make great pieces of work.

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