If you've seen Johnny Depp's latest film, Transcendence, which came out on DVD last month, you've seen some of the work of Long Beach artist Dean Triolo. From the time he was a child, he was intrigued with the patterning of light and the interaction of color. His abstract art fit well into the ambiance of Transcendence, which is about, in part, the mind transcending from a physical to a digital existence.
Triolo is happy to be back living in Long Beach. He has been involved in some events at the Cultural Alliance of Long Beach. "It’s a wonderful organization that helps promote the Long Beach Artists community," he says.
Carma Spence: How did you get your art in the movie Transcendence?
Dean Triolo: I have a friend that is a set decorator and he called me one day and asked if I would mind having my paintings in a Johnny Depp movie he was working on. I was excited, to say the least, and told him that would be great. It become even more real the next day when I got release forms from Warner Brothers.
CS: How would you describe your artistic style?
DT: An easy way to classify my work would be the genre of Abstract Expressionist, because I have moved completely away from any representational subject matter in my work. I feel that at this moment there is no current classification in which I easily fit.
My work is highly emotionally charged with vibration and color. It shifts and changes, as does my life. My first serious body of work is “Transitions.” It was a transformative time in my life. My father had just died and I felt an awakening and a freedom I had not felt before. I had been “brought up” with the idea that the ideal was to paint like the great masters of the Italian High Renaissance. That was real art. Now that was all gone. I wanted to move beyond the physical plane into a much more spiritual realm. I paint the vibrational essence of what I see and feel.
CS: Are there any well-known artists that you have been influenced or inspired by? In what way?
DT: I want to share with you this section of my book, then I’ll names at the end.
"In a word, color, color and the interplay of light. When I was young I was exposed to many religious icons, statues, holy cards, stain glass windows, illustrations in holy books that were based on the art of the Italian High Renaissance. I immediately fell in love with the vibrant warm colors and the high drama in many of the images I saw. Radiant heads, aglow with auras, people being nailed to crosses and some levitating above a crowd.
"As I grew older and my world expanded, I discovered the Impressionists. Again, the colors were amazing to me. Then I saw Van Gogh’s work at a museum. The work was thick, heavy and impasto. I saw the paint rising up off the canvas. It was all about the paint, thick and heavy with color. It didn’t matter the reality of the scene, he painted dramatically with his heart, fast and furiously. Standing in front of the painting, I could feel that energy coming off the canvas.
"Maturing as an artist, I felt compelled to move beyond painting 'the object' and move into abstraction. Seeing and reading the works of Kandinsky, I transitioned into a spiritual connection with my work. It was such a freeing experience to have the feeling of no restrictions on my canvas. I was finally free to paint in my own voice.
"There are many more artists that inspire and influence my work. I am constantly looking at works and taking in new information then synthesizing it through my personal filter.
"In the titling of these works, for the most part, I have used only a numbering system, or the colors. I wish to leave open to the viewer the freedom to see and connect from their personal vantage point. The viewer does not need my guidance. My hope is to engage the viewer and stir something on an inner level. Possibly to provoke and reassess their view of reality, even just the smallest bit."
Now some names:
- James MacNeil Whislter: Some of his works, "Nocturnes" and "Blue and Gold" are just a breath away from being totally abstract.
- John Singer Sargent: He was able to portray an amazing mood with his subjects. I love the slight yet conspicuous smiles on their faces. There’s such life and vibrancy in his work. It’s a celebration of life.
- The art of Edo Japan: There’s an amazingly spiritual quality to the work, down to the perspective. Everything had representation to it in the same way the Vanitas paintings do.
- High Italian Renaissance: The rich amazing colors, the dramatic settings.
- Wassily Kandinsky: The spirituality in his work. Synthesizing the 3 dimensional world into points lines and planes.
- The California Impressionists 1900-1930: The beautiful textures and sumptuous colors.
There are many more that I am finding all the time. I am constantly in museums looking and exploring.
CS: What kinds of media do you prefer working with?
DT: I had been using oils, but now I am exploring acrylics. I am warming up to doing collage, but it might be a while before I am ready to show them to the world.
CS: Where to you get your inspiration?
DT: I find most of my inspiration in nature. I take a lot of pictures, then assemble them in mood boards. I pull the colors and textures and begin to work with those and see where it all takes me.
CS: How did you discover your artistic talents?
DT: When I was very young, 4 or 5, I used to take a crayon in both hands, arms outstretched, and run up and down a hallway drawing on the walls. I was never punished or admonished for doing that. When I was around 8 or 9 my parents began taking me to oil painting lessons because in spite of the insanity I grew up in, they saw some talent.
I’ve continuously been drawing, painting or following some creative pursuit as long as I can remember.
CS: Where should people go to learn more about you and your work?
DT: I have representation at Hellada Gallery in Long Beach:
Do you see the world through genre-coloured glasses? For more science fiction, fantasy and horror news and information -- with a travel twist, check out The Genre Traveler, the travel resource for science fiction, fantasy and horror fans, at www.thegenretraveler.com.