Mighty Tanaka

Art Advising // Consultation // Curation



Studio Visit: Sergio Barrale

Every so often, I'll meet an artist that I connect with straight away.  It could come down to a number of things: their energy, personality, sense of humor, etc, but when that connection is achieved, it creates a certain bond worth pursuing and nurturing.  Instances of that total connectivity upon an initial meeting is somewhat rare and cherished entirely.  However, with artist Sergio Barrale, it went one step further.  In a cut throat city like NYC, it's hard to find an absolutely genuine individual who possess and radiates total integrity at all times, but Sergio is definitely that gem of a human being.  

We met in the summer of 2014 at Martin Wittfooth's property in upstate New York.  Martin graciously invited all his friends up to his house to celebrate the Summer Solstice, where we all had the opportunity to cut loose and shed the pressures of city life for one glorious weekend at the height of Summer.  Everyone who attended the Solstice that day in June were open to the world around them, carefree without barriers, where strangers quickly became friends.  That is how I first met Sergio.

Summer Solstice, upstate NY.  

He was working as an art dealer at the time, directing a high end art gallery in the City, so immediately we had a lot to talk about.  However, he started to tell me about his own art and his desire to create and further interpret the world around him.  We discovered that we shared many common interests and the more he told me about his life's philosophy and his overall approach to his artwork, the more I wanted to see it in person and learn about his artistic process.  It was at that moment that I knew that he was someone that I had to work with.  

Tools of the trade.  Sergio found this antique crate full of old pencils while taking a walk in Brooklyn.  A fortuitous discovery for an artist who works primarily in graphite.

A few weeks after returning to NYC, Sergio and I met up in Red Hook, Brooklyn and he invited me into his studio space.  He had sent me some photos of his drawings and told me that he works almost entirely with graphite on canvas, but I was utterly unprepared for the scale and intensity of his work.  Upon crossing the threshold of his studio space, I was greeted by the oversized portraits of decrepit clergymen, whose eyes locked on me in total judgement.  These huge illustrations on canvas perfectly captured a narrative based in another time in history where the church ruled all with impunity.  Sergio reinterpreted the faces with textures, in order to accentuate the archaic values of a decaying theocratic society.  

Sergio hanging one of his large scale drawings.  The imagery was influenced by La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (Dreyer, 1928).  According to the artist "Size conveys power, the purpose is to examine religion and the manipulation of it."

His next body of work dealt with the study of the human skull.  While it's a common theme amongst artist, Sergio takes his artwork to the next level.  Looking to challenge himself, he plots his course and morphs multiple skulls together into a representational abstraction, creating a mind bending depiction of anatomical structure.  This macabre reminder of mortality is captured in its beautiful essence, as his use of graphite highlights tones and delves into shadows, building up a seamless interpretation.  His knowledge of bone structure and light values demonstrates an expert approach to the subject matter, one that he is able to translate onto canvas in an astounding way.

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Currently, Sergio is embarking on an epic, new body of work that will push him to the limits.  He granted me an insiders view of his latest process, though I am sworn to secrecy, and am not at liberty to divulge what it is he is creating.  However, what I can say is that he is once again working at a large scale, armed only with graphite pencils, and is creating an ambitious new project that will be unlike anything that he has done before. These are exciting times for Sergio as he is doing what he truly loves and is not afraid to take his art to the next level through his constant process of exploration and discovery.  

Sergio Barrale's artwork is available for purchase through the Mighty Tanaka website.  To learn more about the artist, his artwork and the availability of works, please feel free to contact me directly anytime.