Where Light Lives
By Tom Wachunas
“Moonlight is sculpture; sunlight is painting.” ― Nathaniel Hawthorne
"O, Sunshine! The most precious gold the be found on earth." -Roman Payne
"It's the artist's business to create sunshine when the sun falls." -Romain Rolland
“…But the transcendentalism by which all men live has primarily much the position of the sun in the sky. We are conscious of it as a kind of splendid confusion; it is something both shining and shapeless, at once a blaze and a blur…” – G.K. Chesterton
EXHIBIT: Illuminated Visions: Art by Diane Belfiglio / at the Atrium Gallery of the Birk Center for the Arts at Walsh University, 2020 East Maple Street, North Canton, Ohio / through March 26, 2021, open to the public Mon-Fri 8 am - 5 pm
Belfiglio website: https://www.belfiglio.com/
Viewing art during this exhausting, strange season of Covid has necessitated a kind of hunkered down wintering in the World Wide Web. The Cloud. While I’m grateful for the many platforms available for virtual viewing, even the most excellently constructed of art websites are, ironically enough, generally unsatisfying exercises in digital distancing (he said, as you scroll through this post.)
Interestingly, though, they’ve caused me to cherish all the more those corporeal places, those purposeful physical destinations, designed for seeing art. Galleries and museums, to be precise. Comparatively speaking, encountering art in the Cloud, more often than not, falls short of delivering potentially enthralling adventures of mindful looking, in real time and real space, at actual art objects.
So talk about well-timed gallery exhibits. For any of you longing to commune with tangible beauty, this 28-year retrospective by Diane Belfiglio, with works made between 1992 – 2020, is a potent antidote for the often numbing sensations of passively navigating the Internet.
Equally adept in acrylic, colored pencil, oil pastel, or more recently watercolor, Belfiglio is a marvelous technician. Here’s how she has articulated the alluring constancy of her aesthetic:
“ No matter the subject or medium, my work is firmly grounded in the formalist ideas that have interested me since my beginnings as a professional artist: closely cropped images bathed in the interplay of pattern between sunlight and shadows. Although realistic in presentation, I rely heavily on the underlying abstract qualities of my forms. Shadows, ethereal by nature, take on a rigid structural aspect in my compositions. Colors range from brilliant to subtle in an effort to reproduce the strong sense of sunlight streaming through each piece. My goal is to transform the mundane into the extraordinary, so that we see beauty in images that generally go unnoticed by most of us on a daily basis.”
Extraordinary indeed. I’ve always seen Belfiglio’s oeuvre as something akin to one hand firmly caressing earthbound materiality, the other channeling through it the warmth and movement of light. Like the dialogue between conductor and orchestra.
Even at their most formally precise there is in her pictures a mesmerizing harmony of technical acuity and compositional lyricism that imbues them with the rarefied air of visual poetry. Her Ormond Beach oil pastel drawings from 2019, for example, evoke a baptism, an immersion in purifying water, a rising to ineluctable light. Always the light.
Thank you, Diane Belfiglio, for filling this purposeful destination with the thoroughly enchanted reality of your sublime visions.