Paul Catalanotto,
Paul Catalanotto, “Those Places That Once We Visited” 30×36 inches

Paul Catalanotto,
Paul Catalanotto, “Seeping Beauty” 80×36 inches

Paul Catalanotto,
Paul Catalanotto, “Neuron Roulette” detail

Artist Statement

My current work is about how we see and experience color. It is based on my theory that colors have universal physical properties. I rely heavily on these physical properties, how they react with each other and my plaster medium to embody our visual experience.

I developed a white plaster medium that, when mixed with colors, takes on the personality of each color. I apply the tinted plaster with trowels and other various plastering tools. My trowels become forces of nature, compressing, burying, scraping back, pushing and pulling the colors around. The stress I apply to my medium helps bring out its true colors.

My white plaster medium is stored energy, akin to other white things in nature — seeds, sperm, fat, clouds, snow. “The known undecomposed earths are, in their pure state, all white.”* When red is mixed in, the plaster is transformed. It runs, it bleeds, it seeps into the other colors like a virus. Blue, at the other end of the spectrum, makes the plaster thick and sticky. It stays. It blankets. So sticky that, as light, it clings to the air in the sky. Yellow, between the two extremes, has what I call the Goldilocks effect – it’s just right. Creamy and spreadable, it is the easiest color to apply with a trowel.

In order for my Polished Frescos to connect to people on an individual basis, I never have any set imagery in mind. My job is to pay attention to color order and harmony; light and shadow; and the laws of physics, especially gravity, to achieve some sort of imagery.

At certain points in the process, I let the colors take over while my role is to recognize and freeze moments in time. I strive to capture these spontaneous moments between the struggle to exist and the flow toward nothingness.

My work is a product of a long term relationship with tinted plaster and a sense of responsibility to let the medium thrive in an unrestricted environment. It’s about finding ways to work with the plaster as opposed to dominating it — to let it go in directions untethered to a set destination.

*from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) Theory of Colours, first published in English in 1840.

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