Featured Artist: Steven Tutino


In The Storm of Roses

oil on canvas, 16″ x 20″ title taken by a poem of the same name by the post-war Austrian poet, Ingeborg Bachmann (Wherever we turn in the storm of roses / the night is lit up by thorns…”)

Sunday Afternoon

oil on canvas, 16″ x 20″

Transcendence

oil on canvas, 16″ x 20″

Fragments

oil on canvas, 18″ x 24″

Reflections During an Afternoon of Loneliness

watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

Steven Tutino is a writer, poet, painter and personal trainer. He is currently a graduate student at Concordia University in the process of completing an M.A. in Theological Studies. He also works with with students with disabilities at the university, taking notes for them in classes ranging from a wide array of subjects. His poetry has appeared in Concordia University’s Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in SexualityThe Paragon JournalHalcyon DaysPerspectives Magazine and Founder’s Favourites. His artwork has appeared in The Paragon JournalThe Minetta ReviewTreeHouse Arts and Montréal Writes and is set to appear in After Happy Hour ReviewApricity MagazineApricity Press and Bishop StreetA Theology Journal for Graduate Students. Steven currently resides in Montréal, Quebec. 

Artist Statement #1 – Fragments, Transcendence, In the Storm of Roses

I was born for art, to do art, be art, practice art, become art. I can’t describe it but the experience of painting is an incredible, almost ethereal and out of body experience; it’s like my soul grows wings and I could feel my mind going higher, transcending this dimension. I find myself absolutely fulfilled while painting and having completed a painting – well, after completing a painting, I become an artist in rest. There is this need to express myself, something inside me demands expression and once I’ve expressed myself, only then do I feel ‘normal,’ and at ease with myself and at peace with the world. Art is the expression of the human desire to make meaning and value. Art is, according to the 20th century philosopher and theologian Bernard Lonergan, a testament to the freedom of human consciousness. Painting is my way of making sense of the inchoate chaos and anxiety of living, that which cannot be captured into words because it reaches down beneath the level of language and into the level of body and spirit – when I paint, the entirety of my being, mind, body and spirit, are aimed at willing the one thing Kierkegaard spoke of – “purity of heart is to will one thing.” Art is my antidote to chaos.

Life is a miracle, this life I’m living is a miracle and the experience of art is mysterious and revelatory of being-itself. My approach to art is reverential, spiritual and theological. Art is the expression of this transcendent capacity and of transcendence itself, art is the expression of the inherent potentialities within myself and humanity. Life is a beautiful, mysterious thing and art is the expression of that miracle. Art is the expression of what’s inside, what cannot be numbered and contained and defined – art captures the metaphysical process of coming-into-being and being-fully-alive and aching and hungering for more of life, more of such intense life. In art, both spirit and matter, immanence and transcendence coalesce and interpenetrate – the divine encompasses and is manifested in the art object, while the art object points beyond itself to the divine, to transcendence, all the while being born out of the human desire for transcendence. It is sacred, sacramental; the materiality of the art object is the very medium of salvation and God’s self-disclosure. There is a dynamic interplay between spirit and matter both working together side by side, in respect for the other, for love of the other.

Artist Statement #2 – Sunday Afternoon, Reflections During an Afternoon of Loneliness

These two artworks were created when I was a child, while I was being taught the basics about realism in oil painting and watercolor at a private art school my mother enrolled me in. She recognized I had talent and ability, but most importantly, an inclination to create as though it was second-nature to me. These pieces are not reflective of the artist I am today, but rather of that process of coming into myself and discovering myself as an artist and continually evolving as an artist. These pieces are therefore nostalgic; they bring me back to a time when I was a little boy and would find myself drawing at the kitchen table at early morning while my parents were both still asleep, to a time when my grandparents would drive me to my art classes every Friday evening after school and where my mother would pick me up at night after she had finished work. It was a much purer time, an age of innocence that is now irretrievably lost – we were all much younger and everything seemed careless, where the imagination, unconstrained, roamed free. Re-visiting these paintings makes me realize that deep down, there is a part of us which may long to return to childhood and all of the innocence and careless freedom attached to childhood, sort of like Rousseau and Woodsworth’s call for a return to Nature, even though in this highly mechanized world, we wish their Nature was the Nature we once experienced and now long to return to.

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