Vincent Giarrano Figurative Paintings: A True Impression of Life

An Interview with the Artist

Rail Road Apartment, Painting by Vincent Giarrano

Vincent Giarrano was born in 17th November, 1960, Buffalo, New York. Early in his life painting caught his fancy, a passion that he continues nurturing to this day. He completed Master of Fine Arts from Syracuse University in 1985. His works are regularly exhibited in a number galleries including Susan Powell Fine Art, Madison, CT, NYC Viewpoints, 2009, Grenning Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY, Spring Break, 2009 and Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA, Figurative Exhibition, 2008 to name a few. It would not be an exaggeration tosay, Vincent’s fingers are firmly placed feeling the pulse of the city.

Growing up amidst such a vibrant cultural landscape of New York how young Vincent was influenced and had his imaginations stirred?

I lived in New York City for several years after grad school. I didn’t feel any connection with the art scene going on then, so I pursued my interest in illustration. Years later when I became a painter I started going back to the city. It was a powerful experience because not living there, I could now see the city in a more objective way. I was also now seeing it through the eyes of a painter. That was pretty much it for me. I knew I had to capture the energy and intensity of that I felt in the city.

Iron Façade – Soho, Painting by Vincent Giarrano
Iron Façade – Soho

You majored in Sculptural studies. How did the transition from 3d space to 2d plain feel as you started working with illustration and later figurative painting? Can you identify a unifying factor binding all these three media of expressions?

My experience with sculpture was in college. It was my major, and the aesthetic of both my schools was very modern. What I learned most from those years was how to conceptualize and think like an artist. The medium or vehicle for my expression has changed, from sculpture to illustration to painting, but the thought process is essentially the same.

How creatively fulfilling was the time spent working as an illustrator for publishing houses such as Marvel and DC Comics? How challenging was it to create images for and within the contours of a storyline?

My years in the illustration were a terrific experience for me. I love film and visual storytelling, so drawing comic books was like creating my own movies. It definitely developed my sense of narrative, which is a major aspect in my paintings. One major difference between the two; as an illustrator, I drew from my mind, but as a painter, I work from observation.

On the Couch, Painting by Vincent Giarrano
On the Couch

What inspired you in exploring human expressions on canvas through figurative painting? As a visual storyteller how intriguing is observing human emotions and behaviours?

I feel our experiences in daily life are fascinating and beautiful. Often it’s fleeting and we don’t see things long enough to really appreciate how wonderful they are. Through painting, I’m able to present a moment in time and show how something we take for granted can be incredible. For me it’s about sincerity, a true impression of what life actually feels like.

The ubiquitous moments of life get redefined through your brushes on canvas and that includes places frequented often but seldom noticed. Does it feel amusing to arouse audience’s reaction after seeing a ‘known’ corner of a street framed and staring back at them?

It’s nice when people recognize something but what I like more is how people are drawn to what’s going on in my paintings. I find the narrative aspect of my work, engages the viewer and a sort of dialogue happens. It almost feels like my paintings are interactive.

Blue Wall, Painting by Vincent Giarrano
Blue Wall

From or beyond the world of art who left an indelible mark on your mind?

Van Gogh really made an impression on me. I love his work, even though it’s very different from how I paint. What amazes me most is how strong a commitment he had to paint. Except for the encouragement from his brother Theo, he had little else to justify what he was creating. I think it’s incredible what he accomplished in just a short time, and under such difficult circumstances.

Do you think through your creative explorations you have come to know yourself better?

I feel it’s more about exploring and understanding the subject I’m painting, than things about myself. When working with someone, I’m mainly focused on finding out what’s interesting about this person and the place where they are.

Portrait of Vincent Giarrano

Vincent Giarrano

Vincent Giarrano was the finalist in The Artist’s Magazine 25th Annual Competition, 2008 and received rich accolades from Greenwich Arts Council, Greenwich, CT, Faces of Winter, 2008, Salon International, Greenhouse Gallery, San Antonio, TX, 2007 among many others. In his career as an illustrator, Vincent Giarrano worked as a comic artist with such reputed publishers as DC Comics and Marvel Comics.

Find more of his work at his website.

Image Courtesy: Vincent Giarrano