The Painter’s Language
I first saw Edward Boccia in action when I was an impressionable high school sophomore. He worked on the stage at the St. Louis Art Museum auditorium. On one side was a Cubist painting by Georges Braque, on the other a Baroque work by Bernardo Strozzi. In between sat a large blank canvas. On that one Ed recreated the Strozzi with bold strokes. The new painting began to look like the Cubist one, its planes and gestures delineated. Ed had taken us beyond surface and subject matter and exposed the inner workings of Strozzi’s composition, the interdependence of all the pieces of the artist’s puzzle. For me, it was a whole new way of looking at pictures. It was magic—and I was hooked.
In time Ed become my professor, and later my mentor and friend. For many years I went to his studio weekly, drawing from the model with a group of artist’s and teachers, many of us his former students. My first impression at the Art Museum was correct: Ed was a brilliant teacher of the visual language. The lessons I learned from him inform my work today.
Several years after his death in 2012, I returned to his studio to take photographs. I worked not to document the place, but to improvise and compose with what I found there. His materials remained and bore the layered marks of an artist’s creative life over many decades. I wanted to evoke the magic: an artist’s passion for paint, and form and color—and the powerful drive to create.
High Desert Skies
These images are from the American Southwest, on the roads between Santa Fe and Taos and on the San Ildefonso Pueblo. This is a place where storms pop up unexpectedly, where the relationship between land and sky can be seen without obstruction, and where traces of human activity are light. The black and white medium captures only the essentials: light, atmosphere and the sculptural quality of the New Mexico landscape.
These still lifes represent an effort to see the extraordinary in the ordinary stuff of everyday life—to find the transcendant in the seemingly mundane. There is a tension between two dimensions and the illusion of three, and drama in the contrasts: dark and light, concave and convex, rough and smooth, real and reflected. The differences intensify and complement each other, finding equilibrium in the larger geometry of the composition
“We can travel this world and see nothing. To ahieve understanding it is necessary not to see many things, but to look hard at what you do see.”
Car Lot, Macoupin county
The cars, once polished and seemingly impervious, have become as richly layered as an Abstract Expressionist painting. While no human beings appear, there is much evidence of human presence: threadbare pillows, worn knobs and cast-off belongings. These artifacts, and the cars, have taken on an ever more organic quality, transformed by use and the elements.