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There are three roots to my practice of modern painting.

The first and deepest root is embedded in the Renaissance. It comes from the Florentine
Neoplatonic idea of beauty as informed by an Aristotelian logic of the material. The point is
to reveal the essence of the thing through empirical observation. This can be seen in the
paintings of Giovanni Bellini and Sandro Botticelli. I inherited this root from my father.

The second root was formed by my art education. I was schooled during the rise of Abstract
Expressionism in the United States. Those painters brought to the European tradition of
Easel Painting the identity of human scale, i.e. the acknowledgment of the body in painting
and, as a byproduct, the distinction between painting and drawing. You can see this in the
work of Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, and Barnett Newman.

The third root came about through my early exposure to what I call the European concrete.
It resides in understanding their attempt to deal with art as a literal object, and their
investigation into how the body of the form fits into the physical world. This can be seen in
the work of Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana, and Piero Manzoni.

These three roots have been nurtured throughout my career by dialogues with my
colleagues, and by the writings and company of Michael Fried. It is the modern self-critique
of the art that has determined my practice of the form, and it has brought me to a kind of
Lucretian Epicureanism: the art of painting as the embodiment of Liquid Light.

ex nihilo nihil fit


Joseph Marioni


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