Studio Visit: Anthony Falcetta
Anthony Falcetta is an artist living and working in Massachusetts. His work can be seen in PLEAT's November 2017 exhibition as well as anthonyfalcetta.com.
Please describe your work.
My work is a way to distill my experience of seeing and inhabiting physical space. Making paintings is an analog for looking at, moving in, and responding to the world around me -- a way of understanding or processing that results in these interesting material objects. At their simplest, they can be symbolic like maps or diagrams. At the other end of the spectrum, they're like ongoing situations, with an underlying tension that keeps them from relaxing into pictures. In practical terms, my paintings rely on texture, colors interacting beside and behind each other, a mix of gestural brushwork and geometric shape-making, and a process of building up layers, tearing them down and reworking everything. It's always improvisational and responsive -- pushing things until they lose balance, then running around shoring them up.
What internal and external factors motivate your conceptual choices?
I've got a strong sense for space, and how it's weighted and shaped by form -- architecture, natural contours, street structures and so on. I tend to "feel" a place acting on me before it makes sense visually; understanding takes time, and I think my work re-enacts that. As a painter, I operate in pretty binary terms: fast/slow, thick/thin, organic/synthetic, hard-edged/gestural, rough/smooth and so on. It's simplistic, but these little oppositional tensions can add up in the matrix of a painting. In the end, there's this sense of things happening throughout -- on the surface and underneath, in every layer. It keeps my eyes and my attention moving around a piece in a way that feels like being out in the world. I love that in painting every move is built on and responds to the ones before it, so what you get at the end is a compilation of experiences and a record of changes. This feels like the operation of growth and memory to me.
Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them?
Early: Hopper, DeChirico, Joseph Cornell... for their concerns with structure, containment, memory, mood, and the complicated relationships of people and their inner 'scapes to their external surroundings. Later: Johns, Rauschenberg, AbEx... for curiosity and freedom, for the blurring of boundaries between object and image, and how color, form, and movement could be freed from the obligations of rendering and depiction. And then there's Richard Diebenkorn, whose work checks so many painterly boxes for me -- color, gesture, edges, visible edits, layering, buried architecture, overall composition -- while embodying a deep stubbornness acting in tandem with a deep hopefulness. I think as I keep maturing, and have more visual and verbal conversations with other artists, the process of being influenced is changing. I look at all kinds of things from all kinds of creative sources, and they educate and stimulate and challenge me, and I respond by filtering them through the studio-language I've created for myself over time. I definitely get hot crushes, but my own studio work is still my long-term sweetheart.
How has social media affected your studio practice?
I look at dozens of other artists' work daily, and it's a vital reminder that *so many things* are possible for painting, all the time. It can be a great motivator on those days when the work feels dull or stalled out. The other side of that coin is the tendency to compare, or have a brief fit of FOMO, but I think that happens to humans in any setting, and I can (usually) get far enough away to see it for what it is. Otherwise, it's exciting... processes are shared, ideas get floated, announcements are made, friendships form long-distance, and shows get curated among artists who might never have met. At its simplest level, it allows creative people to discover each others' work, and express support and encouragement, and that's really valuable.