Abstract Black and White

Steven Tutino

My latest development in my growth as an artist has been experimenting with the black and white concept. I find this style exhilarating, minimalistic and liberating, especially when I am experiencing artist’s block or visual block. At the same time, I find these monochrome pieces to be my most spiritually compelling work; there is something about black and white that reaches the spirit. It is pure expression of spirit. There is a haunting beauty in these pieces that is cool and edgy and young.

Black and white abstraction plays with space in literal and symbolic ways. My creative process consists of covering the entire canvas with titanium white oil paint in thick textures, a process I find absolutely pleasurable and cathartic. I then apply thick ivory black paint onto my long palette knife, close my eyes meditatively, follow the rhythm of my mind and state of being and apply the luscious black paint against the blank white space. Sometimes I complete this entire process with my eyes closed, but with my mind and heart very much committed and involved. The process is automatic, a means of giving sway to the power of the unconscious mind: revelatory and transformative. Tapping into the unconscious is my way of arriving at meaning and value in art. The entirety of my being is involved in the creative process.  

I use a palette knife for all my work. The palette knife allows for tremendous freedom, flexibility and dexterity, as well as diverse experimentation with texture and form. The palette knife can therefore be seen as a symbol of resistance and transgression against the fine arts tradition I was inundated with as a young child.

Monochrome is about a spiritual quest of salvation and redemption. All art is, for me, about a spiritual quest. But black and white in particular involves arriving at spirit in the purest, holiest of ways, without the excesses of color and extravagant dramatic theatricality of my earlier work. There is a philosophical, maybe even metaphysical, and spiritual depth to black and white abstraction that I find quite new and quite exciting. Through color we see diversity and expressiveness of spirit in the joy of living, but in black and white we see unparalleled depth in such purity and simplicity.

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