With a recent past dedicated to learning refined decorative techniques, followed by an internship as a decorator of theatrical sets, Costanza Alvarez de Castro confronts easel painting from a diametrically opposite perspective: the almost absence of a background. Whether it's a portrait, a representation of a fruit or an animal, the background is simply neutral: not aseptically neutral, nor symbolically neutral, nor even historically neutral, like the 'tenebrous' Caravaggio backgrounds whose realistic interpretations Constance approaches with a modern spirit. The background of Costanza's paintings envelops, absorbs, sustains and keeps alive the subjects represented, elevating them to contemporary icons, deconstructing them from every environmental situation to exalt their vital and pulsating aspects.
Those who know the history of art could be tempted to associate the style of some of his paintings with a particular chronological or stylistic environment: the sixteenth-century Flemish or Lombard Still Life, neoclassical or early twentieth-century portraiture, contemporary metaphysics. However, its subjects emerge outside these environments, while remaining somehow linked to them.
The link with ancient Constance is maintained by the technique of oil painting, which adapts wisely through a continuous search for effects. The choice of oil painting is not a foregone conclusion. The material of this technique is complex in its workmanship, made of overlapping layers, glazes, drying times, slow and different ways of writing that allow nuances, games of opacity and sharpness to which the contemporary eye is almost no longer accustomed, complexity to which the artist wisely gives new possibilities, using an ancient technique in a contemporary key, while respecting, with skill and humility, his slow and complicated work.
His subjects are simultaneously abstract and realistic, immortalized in a timeless environment without real space, yet very tangible in their physicality and in the details of each detail: the brightness of a pomegranate, the expression of a face, the softness of a hare's mantle. Details not easy to perform in oil, especially if you want to interpret this technique away from examples of the past. His portraits capture a fresh, immediate and timeless look, even when people are wearing contemporary clothes. Fruit and animals are represented in an almost hyperrealistic way, but without the photographic effect that distinguishes these works.
The recent series of paintings entitled "Rainforest" takes a completely different direction: in these canvases the background prevails, which serves both as a set and as a subject. It is not easy to combine these two terms in a work that wants to be representative of a moment dear to the artist, therefore subject, that natural landscape, and therefore somehow a natural setting. These paintings look like works in which the physical subjects of the previous paintings are confused in the midst of nature or even absent, and the way in which the landscape is represented, wants to illustrate not only a naturalistic subject, but also a particular "piece" of the artist's soul, denoting a voluntary choice to confuse and at the same time elevate the background to a new subject.
The great quality of Costanza's paintings lies in the knowledge of combining the accurate fineness of details with the solidity of his figures, executed with a material that is mellow and at the same time clear and crystalline, an indication of a refined technique but always in search of new solutions.
Christina Underhill Danielli
Event updated on April, 30 2018 - 20:07