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Roy Kortick - al fresco

Category: Portrait 19. November 2008

One of the earliest forms of art were frescoes, which were painted on the walls of caves, often featuring animals such as horses, bears, and lions. In ancient civilizations, frescoes would also be used to depict mythological figures, as well as religious scenarios, which evolved into the pinnacle of their magnificence in the chapels and cathedrals of the Italian Renaissance. Frescoes throughout all of these eras have been inspired by both the familiar and the sacred.

Roy Kortick, the New York-based artist who brings the fresco, as well as other artistic crafts—ceramics, tiles, tapestries—into the new millennium, is inspired by both the cuddly and the profane. In an age of sensory overload and broken-down taboos, Kortick’s deceptively innocent icons are singled out and thrown together in a mishmash of unlikely settings and combinations:

a figure of Snoopy reclined on an airplane, bunnies lined up in a fresco motif on a band of ladies’ underwear, native Americans, polar bears, astronauts—even his own pet dogs serve as muses for a makeshift, jumbled, irreverent yet endearing memorial.

In the end, the frescoes, both of Kortick as well as cave painters and Renaissance masters, are not only notable for their cultural and historical subject matter, they are also exceptional in their forms and techniques: the luminous color brought out by using paint on plaster, the use of resin to bring a glossy sheen to the surface layers. As much as we may conjecture over the meanings behind a fresco’s rich and dynamic imagery, be it ancient or contemporary, in the end, as Kortick points out, it’s about the work that goes into it that really matters. That said, Kortick can’t help closing that statement with a wink and a smile. (jn)

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