Into The Secret Depths of Intimacy

If there is something that has been sustaining painting over centuries, if we continue to perceive the art as a form of expression and give it the legitimacy required to put ourselves into question, if onlookers can respond emotionally to images portrayed, it is undoubtedly because we find something within the medium that connects us to our current time. Most great masterpieces share this quality. Whenever we approach a meaningful painting, we see the connection to its epochal context impregnated on the surface, as if it were another layer or brush stroke.

In Charly Galuppo’s paintings, this epochal mark is perceived above everything else. Not only because of the way in which they interact with photography —the medium used most often produce images in contemporary life—, but also because these images call attention to one of the great transformations of our time: the public circulation of intimacy that becomes naturalized by social networks and shown by the mass media as a spectacle.

Indeed, Galuppo explores an intimacy that does not belong to him. He enters the vivacious universe of adolescent girls whose daily life fluctuates between girlishness, boredom and permanent seduction, and portrays it with the serene minutiae of a surgeon. In order to take on this task, he starts with photographs taken by the protagonists, upon which their individual point of view is imprinted; a perspective that crisscrosses between the visual forms of our time, switching between the use of snapshot, selfie and curiosity implied by the spy-cam.

Using his own judgement, the artist resolves not to intervene in the making of the shot; at most, the intensity he contributes is fully authorized by his painting skills. He maintains original colors (denatured by changes in lighting), shadows that erase details of objects against the light, as well as promiscuous clarity; the result of an overexposed flash. He retains poorly constructed frames, distortions caused by a wide-angle lens, and fading bodies in motion. He reproduces even the most useless detail or the element regarded as the most indifferent to the composition. But he puts special emphasis on the translation of subtleties, such as the transparency or fold of a dress and repetitive patterns found in lace. All of which direct the attention —sometimes unconsciously— to uncomfortable portrayals of the human form. These details expose the voyeuristic inquisition hidden behind what the artist portrays as a “borrowed gaze,” he makes the ‘look’ his own and transfers it —not without a certain animosity or perversion— to the spectator.

Galuppo chooses from the vast production of daily records obtained by the young collaborators, a certain amount to carry out his project. The Purple Haze series (2012-2016) is the result of a storytelling format which came about involuntarily. Through the paintings that compose this series —all of which retain their photography format— we have access to a sort of album of images all of which look little like old family portraits of the past and much more like those found on Facebook or Instagram today. Hence, the story appears as episodic and fragmentary: moments of group fun in the pool, sensual games for the camera, a couple of stolen moments when the photographed was unaware they were being watched, as well as certain moments of relaxation. The set forms a semblance; perhaps, a generational portrait. In fact, in most shots, the girls’ identities are elided.

The subject of intimacy distracts the attention from an important aspect of Charly Galuppo’s work. Despite reproducing situations associated with certain private spaces, the approach reveals a singular distance. It is not just the distance between elements and camera —which is usually large enough in intimate photographs—, what is perceived as far away is the point where the author positions himself.

In the precise duplication of the model-images, Galuppo avoids going beneath the surface and getting involved with his characters. Instead, he prefers to contemplate, listen, and understand them from a distance without going any further. In the traditional portraits by great master painters, the artist’s ability to penetrate the interiority of his models was much more valued than his virtuosity in reproducing their exterior makeup. Hence, many classical artists modified the portrait in order to enhance the form of those who had commissioned the work. There were also some —like Goya— who made fun of their portraits by transferring them to the canvas. In contrast, Galuppo adopts the contemporary ethnologist’s view —which Hal Foster analyzes in his book The Return of the Real (1996) — as if he were the witness of a reality that unfolds before his eyes and deserves to be preserved, without disturbance, for the purpose of posterity. The distance favors an analytical point of view, the critical view; one of attentive observation. And he opposes the obscene proximity— according to Jean Baudrillard— that characterizes the images promoted by the media.

Andy Warhol once said that he would have liked to be a machine. Although Charly Galuppo seems to act as such, it is clear that it is not his goal to become one. Galuppo does not renounce the author’s place. He is aware of his place in relation, values it and practices it. In his works there is a clear intention to examine the world in which we live and to invite us to meditate on it. And in doing so, he highlights one of the greatest potentialities that has characterized painting throughout history.

Bruma Púrpura 02

Contemporary Realism

In the realm of visual arts, there are moments when the boundaries of contemporaneity seem moving constantly a step ahead in order to make way for new forms of expression and creativity. The need for permanent change as well as the demand for immediacy, both offer a challenging and encouraging panorama, but at the same time can throw off a lot of artists who may start to feel a certain level of discomfort — as if their art was stuck in the past— in response to a composition discourse, for being so “traditional,” they are obliged to justify the validity of their art so it does not become obsolete. Techniques and styles that could be worthy examples of modern twentieth and twenty-first century art are questioned from the demands that instill what is contemporary and there are those who manage to sustain their aesthetic choices but not without problematizing them.

Charly Galuppo is the owner of works that carry exquisite craft and high technical virtuosity within them. It is the exact type of work that confronts many contemporary artistic ideas and lends itself to debate for its strong realistic impression. Is the persistence of certain aesthetic choices, seemingly a response to another moment in time, currently valid today? In my opinion, the unprecedented democratization of the twenty-first century enables the possibility of “anything goes,” but it must be accompanied by questions that enter the piece of art into crisis. Through the years and among his various series, Charly’s work has managed to maintain the essence of realism which not only construct him as a person but also as the artist who detaches himself from the mimesis, subtly, introducing indetermination into a mode of representation; which does not enable error or interpretations beyond a quasi-photographic replica of reality. Choosing to distance oneself from those “musts” that imposes realism as an artistic “ism” and at the same time continue to stand on its foundations, is the balance sought between questioning limits but without betraying the artwork’s identity; a piece of art that focuses on reality as a reference but where a hyperrealistic illusion fades into details that reveal a distanced and precise form of workmanship.

From what I understand, only one who grasps a technique perfectly is able to use it towards reaching certain ends; in principle, contradictory to the nature of his approach. The breaks are evident in the work of Charly Galuppo: dramatic palette used to paint characters’ bodies, the uncomfortable and minimal but obvious — poorly defined areas in which we are expecting precision, the insinuations of what is just barely outlined, the pieces of fabric that move to large formats, plunging us into the action, to small and intimate stories. However, even within the rupture, there are constants that remain throughout all the series and which increase in presence if we are to compare them chronologically: the human figure persists occupying its role of protagonist; being as they are mostly young women who are revealed to us from a point on their body, are designated as the people in charge of inviting us to participate in the piece of art, so that later we try to construct the story.

Since we will not find many faces to guide us; the faces, in general, avoid us. Various means allow you to move the faces away from the foreground: closed eyes, heads turned, backs turned, gazes cut-off or even veiled. As if everything that can and does transmit a face questioning with its eyes were to be reserved only for the artist who decides not to share it with the viewer. And this fact perfectly links to the fact that figurative that drives Charly, needs the presence of photography as the main ally; it is she who allows all the paintings to leave the register of film. Interestingly, in the case of his most recent series, Purple Brume, where the very protagonists of the paintings themselves are in charge of taking record of their immediate surroundings with a camera provided by the artist; it will be him who, finally, makes the creative selection and the “Cut” of that material first-hand. And he will only be able to work from the raw materials that they bring him as a starting point: those images taken by them, for him, in which what has not been photographed cannot be invented or replaced. A game made up of two entities: fate enclosed in a camera carrying with it the uncertain record of the other’s gaze inside and then the intention of the artist who has to detach his point of view from what was given to him.

Charly Galuppo is a realistic artist and his work is as contemporary as any other bodies of art that seek to put the conventions of representation in check, that incorporate reflection and present a challenge for the viewer by proposing a new perspective. But, they also present a challenge for the artist himself to run from a space where he replicates himself and “that’s it,” or falls into the common role of showing off the technique that he dominates with such mastery.

Reality Displaced

Lets imagine a universe where only a few elements can exist: a woman’s body, an ambiguous attitude within that woman’s body, a room with an orange armchair, the darkness of that room surrounding that woman’s body that is distended on the floor so as not to have any part of her body on the couch.

Now, lets imagine those few elements combined in a different way. Later, find ourselves with the majority of paintings in the series by Charly Galuppo, they contain this universe, detailed with ambiguity and solely constructed with essentials.

The search for literalism and accuracy in how they are represented coexists with a minimum of literalism and accuracy from how the story appears. Is it a sensual scene or is it a crime scene? Are these quasi-real perfect women sleeping or are they in a state of shock? Are they enjoying themselves, are they sad or are they suffering a tragedy? Also, they appear to be submissive but it is not so obvious if they are. The uncertainty that inhabits the surface of these paintings is precisely what makes them moving. We attend to the perfection of the representation and to the imprecision of what is happening at the same time.

What is actually going on, is veiled behind the impeccable textures of clothes that adorn these also impeccable female bodies. Because the piece deals with digging deeper, instead, into the reality that goes unnoticed behind or above bodies: blue veins on the forehead or hands, wrinkles on the soles of the feet, cheeks that fall by their own weight, traces of a bathing suit or the bones marking the surface of the skin. It is about giving the body representation of flesh and its musculature consistency.

We are faced with a kind of paradigmatic case in which we are not sure if reality exceeds representation or representation exceeds reality. But if there is one thing that we cannot doubt it is that two things happen in the Charly Galuppo’s artwork. First, we face one of those cases of unconditional technical virtuosity that with only a palette of six colors, we are given a painting that overflows the limits of the mimesis and when we see it we can confuse it, admiringly, with a photograph. And secondly, without a doubt, it is his valuable artistic gesture of replacing the work of a machine with the hand that resides, precisely in an era like ours in which even our perception of the world has become photographic.

Without forgetting strict and orthodox realistic precision, he shifts to what is pictorially plausible, as he updates the traces of photographic representation. This translation reveals the basis on which his iconographic universe stands; through reframing, the hard lighting of the flash, the perspective of using a wide angle, or the blurring of the backgrounds.

This we see clearer in his smaller works, in which he uses fragmentation in the scenes represented. Intentionality is added to the point of view, using the intimacy found within the encounter between the camera and the models, calling together the portrait genre with the most sensual of characters.
Considering his paintings are the representation of a reality already shown via the sensibility of the camera, we are not faced with the presence of his immediate experience with these women, but his approach to these bodies is some place in the middle, so much so as our entire perception of contemporaneity is somewhere “in between” also. Clearly it is a style of painting that cannot exist without photography and in that lies the admirable aspect of his work.

Today, it is only via a deep reflection of contemporary perceptions with which we can access this type of painting and Charly Galuppo brings it to us through his work.

Interior Vertical
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Into The Secret Depths of Intimacy

Into The Secret Depths of Intimacy

If there is something that has been sustaining painting over centuries, if we continue to perceive the art as a form of expression and give it the legitimacy required to put ourselves into question, if onlookers can respond emotionally to images portrayed, it is undoubtedly because we find something within the medium that connects us to our current time. Most great masterpieces share this quality. Whenever we approach a meaningful painting, we see the connection to its epochal context impregnated on the surface, as if it were another layer or brush stroke.

In Charly Galuppo’s paintings, this epochal mark is perceived above everything else. Not only because of the way in which they interact with photography —the medium used most often produce images in contemporary life—, but also because these images call attention to one of the great transformations of our time: the public circulation of intimacy that becomes naturalized by social networks and shown by the mass media as a spectacle.

Indeed, Galuppo explores an intimacy that does not belong to him. He enters the vivacious universe of adolescent girls whose daily life fluctuates between girlishness, boredom and permanent seduction, and portrays it with the serene minutiae of a surgeon. In order to take on this task, he starts with photographs taken by the protagonists, upon which their individual point of view is imprinted; a perspective that crisscrosses between the visual forms of our time, switching between the use of snapshot, selfie and curiosity implied by the spy-cam.

Using his own judgement, the artist resolves not to intervene in the making of the shot; at most, the intensity he contributes is fully authorized by his painting skills. He maintains original colors (denatured by changes in lighting), shadows that erase details of objects against the light, as well as promiscuous clarity; the result of an overexposed flash. He retains poorly constructed frames, distortions caused by a wide-angle lens, and fading bodies in motion. He reproduces even the most useless detail or the element regarded as the most indifferent to the composition. But he puts special emphasis on the translation of subtleties, such as the transparency or fold of a dress and repetitive patterns found in lace. All of which direct the attention —sometimes unconsciously— to uncomfortable portrayals of the human form. These details expose the voyeuristic inquisition hidden behind what the artist portrays as a “borrowed gaze,” he makes the ‘look’ his own and transfers it —not without a certain animosity or perversion— to the spectator.

Galuppo chooses from the vast production of daily records obtained by the young collaborators, a certain amount to carry out his project. The Purple Haze series (2012-2016) is the result of a storytelling format which came about involuntarily. Through the paintings that compose this series —all of which retain their photography format— we have access to a sort of album of images all of which look little like old family portraits of the past and much more like those found on Facebook or Instagram today. Hence, the story appears as episodic and fragmentary: moments of group fun in the pool, sensual games for the camera, a couple of stolen moments when the photographed was unaware they were being watched, as well as certain moments of relaxation. The set forms a semblance; perhaps, a generational portrait. In fact, in most shots, the girls’ identities are elided.

The subject of intimacy distracts the attention from an important aspect of Charly Galuppo’s work. Despite reproducing situations associated with certain private spaces, the approach reveals a singular distance. It is not just the distance between elements and camera —which is usually large enough in intimate photographs—, what is perceived as far away is the point where the author positions himself.

In the precise duplication of the model-images, Galuppo avoids going beneath the surface and getting involved with his characters. Instead, he prefers to contemplate, listen, and understand them from a distance without going any further. In the traditional portraits by great master painters, the artist’s ability to penetrate the interiority of his models was much more valued than his virtuosity in reproducing their exterior makeup. Hence, many classical artists modified the portrait in order to enhance the form of those who had commissioned the work. There were also some —like Goya— who made fun of their portraits by transferring them to the canvas. In contrast, Galuppo adopts the contemporary ethnologist’s view —which Hal Foster analyzes in his book The Return of the Real (1996) — as if he were the witness of a reality that unfolds before his eyes and deserves to be preserved, without disturbance, for the purpose of posterity. The distance favors an analytical point of view, the critical view; one of attentive observation. And he opposes the obscene proximity— according to Jean Baudrillard— that characterizes the images promoted by the media.

Andy Warhol once said that he would have liked to be a machine. Although Charly Galuppo seems to act as such, it is clear that it is not his goal to become one. Galuppo does not renounce the author’s place. He is aware of his place in relation, values it and practices it. In his works there is a clear intention to examine the world in which we live and to invite us to meditate on it. And in doing so, he highlights one of the greatest potentialities that has characterized painting throughout history.

Bruma Púrpura 02
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Contemporary Realism

Contemporary Realism

In the realm of visual arts, there are moments when the boundaries of contemporaneity seem moving constantly a step ahead in order to make way for new forms of expression and creativity. The need for permanent change as well as the demand for immediacy, both offer a challenging and encouraging panorama, but at the same time can throw off a lot of artists who may start to feel a certain level of discomfort — as if their art was stuck in the past— in response to a composition discourse, for being so “traditional,” they are obliged to justify the validity of their art so it does not become obsolete. Techniques and styles that could be worthy examples of modern twentieth and twenty-first century art are questioned from the demands that instill what is contemporary and there are those who manage to sustain their aesthetic choices but not without problematizing them.

Charly Galuppo is the owner of works that carry exquisite craft and high technical virtuosity within them. It is the exact type of work that confronts many contemporary artistic ideas and lends itself to debate for its strong realistic impression. Is the persistence of certain aesthetic choices, seemingly a response to another moment in time, currently valid today? In my opinion, the unprecedented democratization of the twenty-first century enables the possibility of “anything goes,” but it must be accompanied by questions that enter the piece of art into crisis. Through the years and among his various series, Charly’s work has managed to maintain the essence of realism which not only construct him as a person but also as the artist who detaches himself from the mimesis, subtly, introducing indetermination into a mode of representation; which does not enable error or interpretations beyond a quasi-photographic replica of reality. Choosing to distance oneself from those “musts” that imposes realism as an artistic “ism” and at the same time continue to stand on its foundations, is the balance sought between questioning limits but without betraying the artwork’s identity; a piece of art that focuses on reality as a reference but where a hyperrealistic illusion fades into details that reveal a distanced and precise form of workmanship.

From what I understand, only one who grasps a technique perfectly is able to use it towards reaching certain ends; in principle, contradictory to the nature of his approach. The breaks are evident in the work of Charly Galuppo: dramatic palette used to paint characters’ bodies, the uncomfortable and minimal but obvious — poorly defined areas in which we are expecting precision, the insinuations of what is just barely outlined, the pieces of fabric that move to large formats, plunging us into the action, to small and intimate stories. However, even within the rupture, there are constants that remain throughout all the series and which increase in presence if we are to compare them chronologically: the human figure persists occupying its role of protagonist; being as they are mostly young women who are revealed to us from a point on their body, are designated as the people in charge of inviting us to participate in the piece of art, so that later we try to construct the story.

Since we will not find many faces to guide us; the faces, in general, avoid us. Various means allow you to move the faces away from the foreground: closed eyes, heads turned, backs turned, gazes cut-off or even veiled. As if everything that can and does transmit a face questioning with its eyes were to be reserved only for the artist who decides not to share it with the viewer. And this fact perfectly links to the fact that figurative that drives Charly, needs the presence of photography as the main ally; it is she who allows all the paintings to leave the register of film. Interestingly, in the case of his most recent series, Purple Brume, where the very protagonists of the paintings themselves are in charge of taking record of their immediate surroundings with a camera provided by the artist; it will be him who, finally, makes the creative selection and the “Cut” of that material first-hand. And he will only be able to work from the raw materials that they bring him as a starting point: those images taken by them, for him, in which what has not been photographed cannot be invented or replaced. A game made up of two entities: fate enclosed in a camera carrying with it the uncertain record of the other’s gaze inside and then the intention of the artist who has to detach his point of view from what was given to him.

Charly Galuppo is a realistic artist and his work is as contemporary as any other bodies of art that seek to put the conventions of representation in check, that incorporate reflection and present a challenge for the viewer by proposing a new perspective. But, they also present a challenge for the artist himself to run from a space where he replicates himself and “that’s it,” or falls into the common role of showing off the technique that he dominates with such mastery.

+
Reality Displaced

Reality Displaced

Lets imagine a universe where only a few elements can exist: a woman’s body, an ambiguous attitude within that woman’s body, a room with an orange armchair, the darkness of that room surrounding that woman’s body that is distended on the floor so as not to have any part of her body on the couch.

Now, lets imagine those few elements combined in a different way. Later, find ourselves with the majority of paintings in the series by Charly Galuppo, they contain this universe, detailed with ambiguity and solely constructed with essentials.

The search for literalism and accuracy in how they are represented coexists with a minimum of literalism and accuracy from how the story appears. Is it a sensual scene or is it a crime scene? Are these quasi-real perfect women sleeping or are they in a state of shock? Are they enjoying themselves, are they sad or are they suffering a tragedy? Also, they appear to be submissive but it is not so obvious if they are. The uncertainty that inhabits the surface of these paintings is precisely what makes them moving. We attend to the perfection of the representation and to the imprecision of what is happening at the same time.

What is actually going on, is veiled behind the impeccable textures of clothes that adorn these also impeccable female bodies. Because the piece deals with digging deeper, instead, into the reality that goes unnoticed behind or above bodies: blue veins on the forehead or hands, wrinkles on the soles of the feet, cheeks that fall by their own weight, traces of a bathing suit or the bones marking the surface of the skin. It is about giving the body representation of flesh and its musculature consistency.

We are faced with a kind of paradigmatic case in which we are not sure if reality exceeds representation or representation exceeds reality. But if there is one thing that we cannot doubt it is that two things happen in the Charly Galuppo’s artwork. First, we face one of those cases of unconditional technical virtuosity that with only a palette of six colors, we are given a painting that overflows the limits of the mimesis and when we see it we can confuse it, admiringly, with a photograph. And secondly, without a doubt, it is his valuable artistic gesture of replacing the work of a machine with the hand that resides, precisely in an era like ours in which even our perception of the world has become photographic.

Without forgetting strict and orthodox realistic precision, he shifts to what is pictorially plausible, as he updates the traces of photographic representation. This translation reveals the basis on which his iconographic universe stands; through reframing, the hard lighting of the flash, the perspective of using a wide angle, or the blurring of the backgrounds.

This we see clearer in his smaller works, in which he uses fragmentation in the scenes represented. Intentionality is added to the point of view, using the intimacy found within the encounter between the camera and the models, calling together the portrait genre with the most sensual of characters.
Considering his paintings are the representation of a reality already shown via the sensibility of the camera, we are not faced with the presence of his immediate experience with these women, but his approach to these bodies is some place in the middle, so much so as our entire perception of contemporaneity is somewhere “in between” also. Clearly it is a style of painting that cannot exist without photography and in that lies the admirable aspect of his work.

Today, it is only via a deep reflection of contemporary perceptions with which we can access this type of painting and Charly Galuppo brings it to us through his work.

Interior Vertical