Joseph Di Bella

Modified oil monotype and mixed media on paper 38”h x 30.5” 1998

Beneath the Mount #2(Colore di pioggia adi ferro, trans. The colors of rain and iron) Modified oil monotype and mixed media on paper 38”h x 30.5”w 1998

Di Bella on “Beneath the Mount #2” :

“This is one piece from a suite of ten works on themes of history, ethnicity and culture situated in a particular place: Sicily and the slope of the volcano, Mount Etna. Verses from Salvatore Quasimodo’s poetry interlace diptych halves. These mixed media works are oil monotypes with enhancement and alteration in oil, gouache, graphite and colored pencil.  One visual field physically and metaphorically parallels the other. The black, rich earth of lava from ancient eruptions blankets past generations in the upper panel as the beaded door coverings of villagers’ homes shield those living from the burning sun in the lower panel. The surrounding frames reference patterns from various Sicilian artistic traditions. The layering of Italian and English languages alludes to the tension between a thought and its utterance.”

Scared and Profane Love (to Dante and Elliot) acrylic on canvas and masonite 46”h x 48”w  1994

"Sacred and Profane Love (to Dante and Elliot)" acrylic on canvas and masonite 46”h x 48”w 1994

Di Bella on “Sacred and Profane Love”:

“In this part of a series of related paintings, three processes intermingle. The first is the abstracted analysis of historical works of art. These form the altered symmetrical underpinnings of the paintings. The second is the presence of text passages from authors whose works influenced the artist. The third is the frame. Its imagery depends on other historical works that provide indirect analogies for the interior space. These frames are equivalent to glosses in manuscripts. This interest in the frame as a means of bracketing content finds its way into most of the work I have subsequently created. In this example passages from Dante’s Inferno overlay excerpts from Eliot’s Wasteland, two literary masterpieces whose temporal distances come closer together in one space.”

Omo Non Omo No. 1 58.5”h x 41.5”w digital prints mounted on wood panels 2000

"Omo Non Omo No. 1" 58.5”h x 41.5”w digital prints mounted on wood panels 2000

Di Bella on “Omo Non Omo”:

“The phrase ‘Non omo, omo gi fui’ comes from Dante’s Inferno, and translates basically as ‘Not man now but once was man’ or, more clearly, ‘though not alive now, I once was,’ a phrase loaded with existential content. I invert the passage. This digital painting takes the niche form as a place that envelops and imprisons the figure, a mausoleum or funerary alcove. The use of divisions, small parts closing into a whole, becomes a favorite device for my later works.”

Joseph Di Bella Bio

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