Painting the Male Figure > Contemporary realism figurative art by Alessandro Tomassetti
There is a lot of superb contemporary realism being made these days; this article by Allison Malafronte shines light on a gifted individual:
The figurative work of ALESSANDRO TOMASSETTI (b. 1970) is about what it means to be male. The Canadian-born Italian artist does not pull any punches in presenting the rarely exposed sides of masculinity: vulnerability, sensitivity, and intimacy. These softer characteristics conventionally associated with the female form are juxtaposed against the physical appearance of his sitters, who often appear quintessentially masculine: strong, strapping, self-assured.
This irony is no accident, as Tomassetti’s art asks viewers to rethink assumptions about female and male attributes. At the same time, he is looking at how women and men have been portrayed in traditional portraiture and modern advertising throughout history.
“Painting predominantly figurative work of men is a natural fit for me,” the artist explains. “Obviously I think there is beauty in the male form. There is a very strong tradition in fine art of female representation and female beauty, both by male artists and female artists, but the opposite is not as true. Male portraiture sort of went the way of popes and CEOS and captains of industry. But the men that I was seeing and was interested in painting weren’t represented. I think being able to see men in a gentler, more vulnerable way can only benefit our society today.”
Now based in Barcelona, Tomassetti received his B.F.A. at McMaster University (Ontario) and went on to work as a special effects and computer-animation artist for Disney and Sony, followed by a stint as a menswear fashion designer. After taking a workshop with the Spanish painter Eloy Morales in 2014, Tomassetti decided to pursue the profession of painter full-time, teaching himself the majority of what he knows today. Three short years after that workshop, he began exhibiting and selling his work in Europe and the U.S. to a widely receptive and responsive audience.
Today Tomassetti continues to revere the historical tradition of realism while acknowledging the language of contemporary times. And although most of his models are recruited from Instagram, his paintings stand in stark contrast to the social-media selfie. Instead, in his imagery, the creative instrument of interpretation — the paintbrush — is back in the artist’s hand.
Tomassetti is represented by 33 Contemporary Gallery (Chicago).
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