Leonard Greco: The Proposition (red edition), 2016 (relief print on paper, series of 4)
The role of a life lived is a rolling journey of events and moments, some large, some small, some pleasant, some traumatic, yet all are significant, all have their place and purpose in that life.
As humans, we value our lives, hold them in our palms as we would a precious gem, or a handful of clear water, and yet we are also casual, cruel, and negligent with those self-same lives, treating our own and others as if they held no significance, no awe and wonder.
Artists have always certainly reflected and projected thoughts, ideas, and ideals regarding life, particularly when it comes to the flow of that life, through its birth, life, and death.
Leonard Greco: Gnosis and the Old Gods Were Pleased, 2014 (oil on canvas)
Leonard Greco: Genesis, 2014 (oil on canvas)
All artists have approached these major themes in individual, personal perspectives, taking themes that we all understand, or at least recognise, and tailoring them to their own thoughts, their own recognised needs and understanding.
An artist that has delved deeper than most into the world of the circle of life, that of birth/life/death/rebirth, is Leonard Greco. Leonard explores, though a range of narratives, the complexity of life's journey, not only through its major biological milestones of birth and death, but also through well-known human references and experiences of transformation through a life lived, such as salvation, rebirth, and enlightenment.
These are often volatile and emotive experiences of which many of us have differing, but equally valid personal perspectives. To Leonard, themes dealt with in his work are highly personal, they are part of his life, of his journey through experiences and passions.
Leonard Greco: Andromedus, 2013 (oil on canvas)
Leonard Greco: Adam, 2016 (painted recycled fabric, thread, polyfill)
Often, to understand the work of an artist is to try and understand their life, and the journey of that life. It is too narrow a focus to say that an artist's life is dictated by the external, that to understand an artist you need to understand the era in which they lived.
That is true to an extent, but an artist's internal world is much more significant than whether they passed through the nineteenth, twentieth, or twenty first century. An artist has a direct connection with fundamental, non-historical narratives. They are in touch with the meaning and fluidity of life, in touch with the larger life.
The wonder and tragedy of life's journey for each of us is the same significant journey that individuals passed through ten thousand years ago, being the same one travelled through by individuals ten thousand years hence.
Leonard Greco: Hadesville, 2016 (oil on canvas)
Leonard Greco: Resurrection of the Father, 2013 (watercolour on paper)
Leonard Greco: Seizing Sanctimonium, 2016 (oil on canvas)
Leonard draws a great deal of comfort and significance from recurring symbols throughout human culture, both near and far, ancient and modern. His work is richly laid with references to world mythology, Roman Catholic saints, the Italian Renaissance, classical European painters, low-brow erotica, Surrealism, and more.
It is important to remember that although you may well recognise narratives in Leonard's work, narratives that connect with major and minor religions, connect with philosophy and psychology, with elements of the great wheel of life itself, all eventually come back to the real connection that is the perspective, understanding, and experience that is the artist and their life.
Leonard's paintings are metaphors that explore what it is to be human and what it is to live a life as a human, through its complexity, simplicity, tragedy, and joy.
Leonard Greco: Persephone, 2015 (oil on canvas)
Leonard Greco: The Temptation of St. Anthony of the Desert at the Baths of St. Mark, 2016 (sanguine pencil on paper)
Leonard's themes are universal to the extent that they touch on significances in all our lives. From our connection and relationship with others, the joy and trauma we experience through the birth and death of ourselves and others, to understanding of what it is to be in this place, in this moment, to be both connected and alone.
To be able to transport those ideas, those finalities through his work is Leonard's reason for being. An artist is an artist because they have something to say, something to project, something to share. Leonard shares his own experiences of a life being lived, part of the greater life that we all share.
More of Leonard's work can be seen at his online studio journal: https://boondocksbabylon.com/
Please be aware that all imagery was kindly donated by the artist. To reproduce imagery from this feature, please contact the artist first. Thanks!
Leonard Greco: Herakles and Telephos, 2015 (watercolour and graphite on paper)