Vincent Desiderio Soaking oil on linen 71.5 x 78.5 inches 2005
Vincent Desiderio The Bath oil on linen 2009
Yet heaviness of meaning in art is neither good nor bad. The important thing is for an artist to be true to themselves, to make work that satisfies an inner longing.
As for Desiderio's use of visual references to centuries of art history, it's a matter of taste. Some may love this, while others might think that intellect should not clutter things up overmuch. Think of the earthy power of the accessible poetry of William Carlos Williams, and compare that with T.S. Eliot's highly intellectual style:
William Carlos Williams
If when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades—
Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?
The Wasteland (excerpt)
Poi s’ascose nel foco che gli affina
Quando fiam ceu chelidon—O swallow swallow
Le Prince d’Aquitaine à la tour abolie
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo’s mad againe.
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.
Which poem do you prefer? And which artist, Vincent Desiderio or Bernard Dunstan?
As far as I’m concerned, what painters do when they work from the work of other painters is they allegorize the method. They take things that are present in the technical narrative of painters that precede them, and they imbue them with an anthropomorphic presence or give it a name or reissue it in a different way, but in doing so they treat that quality or character or set of relationships in a different way. So the allegorization of method for me is the true allegory within paintings.