Gary Trento: A Retrospective

August 30, 2019 – October 12, 2019

Gary Trento has selected 23 of his favorite paintings to represent the 52 years he has lived and worked in Central New York.

Artist Statement

I am an artist who paints from life. This means I always paint with the model or setup before me. I have always believed in the persuasiveness of how this manner of painting can transform the activity of direct observation of the objects in real time and space into a meaningful experience for the viewer without the need of overt social, personal, or political implications. My paintings are tempered and stimulated by the tradition from which they come. For a painter not to understand that tradition is to speak with a limited vocabulary.

What we see in nature never is what we see in a painting, yet the subject matter is already familiar. The oranges and peaches Cezanne bought at the open air market in the morning are not the same peaches in the painting he created in the afternoon. They have become “representational” beyond what they are in actuality.

Attention should be directed toward the circumstances under which they function: to transform a fidelity to common matter into an idea grander than the matter is. Likeness is not the goal of representational painting; rather, it is but a condition through which representation must pass in order to get where it’s going.

Why has existence, the simple being of things, become uninteresting? Walter Benjamin, the French critic, wrote in the 1930s often about the loss of aura in art because of advances in science and technology, especially the mediated and reproducibility of images. He said, “We no longer work at what cannot be abbreviated, an aversion to sustained efforts.” He also said the gift of listening requires relaxation, almost boredom. Observation of a painting is, maybe more so, about listening to what the painting is trying to tell you. The contemporary “glimpse” cannot replace the participation and time art requires.