In Decent Exposure: A studio Visit with Vinni Alfonso
Written by Emily Milano | firstname.lastname@example.org
(Denver CO) The boundaries between publicly and privately appropriate content has shifted and adapted through each decade, but there is one thing that has always managed to toe the line: sex. Though often in the forefront of contemporary media, and certainly the internet, sex still somehow remains taboo in the unmediated public sphere. For the past three years, Vinni Alfonso has explored and exploded these boundaries with his striking abstracted erotica.
"Art, sex, creation. It’s all this innately human thing.”
Walking into his studio at Helikon Gallery is a sensory overload in the best possible way. Bright hues from each canvas graciously compete for your gaze. Music hums in the background. The scent of dirty paint rags casually draped across coarse nails along the wall welcomes guests to inhale the remnants of his process. In all aspects, Alfonso finds meaning in the discarded. Art is often generalized, perhaps to a cliché, as a representation of the human experience. What makes Alfonso’s work so striking, is his pursuit of capturing the feeling; the very texture, of our humanity. A caressing assault on human sensation.
Alfonso is used to the politely confused and borderline concerned responses to his work as he confronts viewers with vibrant colors layered across explicitly posed figures. He makes no apologies for discomfort. “Art, sex, creation. It’s all this innately human thing.” explains Alfonso, “It’s something you know and something that plays a part in every human psyche. It’s a dark, weird trench of humanity that people are afraid to explore.” Both his approach and application seem to even have a surrealist quality. While many artists take the dreamy, uncanny aspects and run with it, Alfonso shows a more restrained application. The keyword to surrealism is realism. The inner-workings of the psyche confronts the finessed and realistic physical reality of his subjects.
“The paint becomes its own character in a piece. It has its own identity.”
Drawn to the cinematic and staged quality of vintage erotica, each of Alfonso’s paintings begins with an antique photographic reference. This process of inspiration speaks to the universal nature of sexuality and intrigue toward the human body, especially to the female form. “The weight of the female Architype in our culture is tremendous,” he muses, “Woman are represented as creators, which I find fitting for what art is: a creation.” He views this area of exploration as so innate to the human mind that it should need no explanation or justification.
These brilliantly executed renditions of vintage images become subject to abstraction through Alfonso’s dynamic color work, influenced by his seemingly paradoxical background in cartoon illustration, which inspired his artistic pursuits from a young age; You can see remnants of this playful innocence in his work which complicates the more “mature content” of his figures.
Alfonso views the world in layers,
“There’s the surface layer of society that ends with appearances, but everyone has this thing underneath them, and if they were only willing to let that go and talk about it, there would be a different level of understanding and connection.”
His style visually flips this script, bringing the messy layers of colors and textures to the forefront of his paintings. The explicit figures draw you in with a startling appeal, but are left admiring the base visual quality of what’s happening. “The paint becomes its own character in a piece. It has its own identity.”
The essence of art for Alfonso rests in breaking down the resistance to becoming who and what we actually are; exploring the raw aspects of ourselves. His work calls for an unadulterated introspection into what it means to be a part of humanity and transcends the boundaries between our private experiences and public connections.
A testament to his juxtaposing nature, the most intriguing aspect of Vinni is his ability to simultaneously hold a profound grasp on his internal mental gymnastics of his current obsession with his casual, candid and unassuming personal nature. In the studio, he embodies the musing artist delving into the depths of himself. Outside the studio you can find him watching movies, drinking whiskey, and “trying to find inspiration in the weird muck we live in...Or eating a chicken sandwich.”
*Opinions expressed by Odessa Contributors are their own.