Chicago-based fine art painter Bruno A. Surdo is classically trained in drawing and oil painting in the tradition of Renaissance masters. With strong command of the human form, Surdo creates dynamic compositions of people and places that communicate a rich commentary on the world around him. Depicting trees from personal encounters, Surdo’s latest body of work entitled “Tree Spirits” takes us on a foray into the forest, where leaves, branches and burls express something deeply personal. Applying his mastery of figurative realism to the natural world, he experiments with form and texture to uncover the intangible spirits of trees.
The final addition to the “Tree Spirits” series, this large-scale work entitled “This is Not a Tree” pushes the limitations of paint and canvas as a medium. Inspired by the huge, rooted trees Surdo encounters along his walks, the painting depicts the base of an enormous old growth tree.
Experimenting with more sculptural methods, Surdo dropped his careful application of shadow and modeled the tree form with thick folds of fabric saturated with paint and textured with sand and grit. A torrent of brush strokes adds color and detail, capturing the tree’s essence with frenzied scribbles and colorful splotches. The resulting surface is tactile and three-dimensional, simulating tree bark with deep grooves, rough texture, and varied coloring.
However, text flanking the trunk subverts this image of a tree by declaring that all is not as it seems. Challenging the artist’s own expectations of realism and representation, the abstract composition is neither a tree nor a painting. An abstraction of form and color, the work calls into question whether any of Surdo’s tree portraits can be interpreted literally and reminds the viewer that art is always a subjective perspective.
Mixed media on canvas.