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Hamptons Life

Nov 17, 2009 2:15 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Works by Eugenio Cuttica connected by a common theme

Nov 17, 2009 2:15 PM

She stands still and looks outward from the paintings she occupies. Her gaze is direct but not confrontational or questioning. She seems to ask for nothing. She is beautiful.

This mysterious Japanese woman is immersed in fields of color. One painting is awash in bright oranges and vibrating greens with slim areas of purples, blues and reds. Delicate peaches, oranges and yellows define another. There are paintings of grays and blacks. Turquoise, purples and yellows appear in another.

All of the paintings feature the same young woman. This extensive body of work represents the most recent paintings by Eugenio Cuttica of East Hampton. They are the subject of the current show, “Alexandra: a solo exhibition,” at the Tripoli Gallery of Contemporary Art in Southampton. The show remains on view through November 24.

And, no, the woman’s name is not Alexandra. The exhibition is named for and dedicated to a woman whose friendship touched Mr. Cuttica, said Tripoli Patterson, curator and director of the Tripoli Gallery. The young woman in the paintings is a model he spied while having sushi with his wife, Ruth, in Soho, said Mr. Cuttica.

As is his custom, Mr. Cuttica asked his wife to approach the young woman to become both muse and model for his art. She agreed and photographs were taken. Her image is painted onto watercolor paper just as she posed, Mr. Cuttica explained during a phone interview.

The artist is currently in Argentina—the country of his birth. Now an American citizen, he lives several months a year in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and spends the rest of his time in East Hampton.

The “Alexandra” paintings represent a continuation of eight years spent painting portraits and colorful and energetic abstract paintings. The paintings feature a distinctive figure that bestows a beauty of some kind. Each is ethnically different from the other models or characters. Taken together, the paintings are an homage to the diversity of New York City, Mr. Cuttica said.

The artwork captures in visual terms the idea that there is similarity and connection even among differences. Each character has the quality of someone “waiting for something to happen,” Mr. Cuttica said. This is another thread that runs through the overall series.

“If I choose the right character, 50 percent of the painting is already done,” Mr. Cuttica said. “I’m always looking for beautiful people, in general.”

The balance between painting the figure and the abstraction is a delicate one. It is also filled with meaning, Mr. Cuttica said. The figure represents the human condition and provides a recognizable element to help ease viewers into the abstracted fields of color.

The vibrant and energy-filled abstract over-painting is meant to sweep viewers into the world of higher emotions and spirituality, he said. The combination aims to capture Buddhist teachings that the world we see is an illusion and true life lies beyond perception. Or, as Mr. Cuttica described it: he paints the silence.

“I’m interested in Eastern philosophy,” he said. “I like to make visible the invisible. I try to paint the sound that is behind the formal world … to paint a sample of what is really behind the general illusion we are all living.”

Decades of making paintings that combine spirituality and emotions with the condition of being human has brought Mr. Cuttica to a place of accomplishment, he said. The paintings “work” when the equilibrium between the abstraction and the figure is a perfect blend. A key element of this mélange is the transparent quality of the figure.

The figure attracts and holds the eye for a time before drawing viewers into colorful worlds of emotions and higher planes. The colorful interplay of the abstraction represents intuition. The form represents logic.

“These are complementary concepts,” he said, “There is potential to enhance each other. Truth. Beauty. They are intimately related. In a way, they are the same. There is no contradiction at all. Art is true spirituality.”

Mr. Cuttica has exhibited internationally and his solo shows include galleries in Argentina, Chile, Holland and Boston, Massachusetts. In 1989, he was selected as a finalist for the Venice Biennial. His work is in collections held by private collectors and by the Museum of Art in Buenos Aires. Corporate collectors include Sony, Aiwa, American Express and others. See www.eugeniocuttica.com.ar for information.

“Alexandra: a solo exhibition” remains on view through November 24 at the Tripoli Gallery of Contemporary Art, 30A Jobs Lane in Southampton. For information, call 377-3715 or visit www.tripoligallery.com.

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