While this week’s cover by Marc Dalessio features a street scene in Sag Harbor (“Shady Day”), it reminds us of other settings the artist has used from all over the world. Perhaps it’s because his style follows the same classical tradition and the plein air way of working outdoors. Perhaps it’s also the senses that are evoked so intensely: the smell, sound and taste of the locale.
For this critic, however, it’s the fluid and lyrical approach that Dalessio uses to depict the images, depending on where he is, that’s most arresting. Another notable observation: Whether the scene is in Sag Harbor, Ireland or Russia, the artist manages to create landscapes that resemble buildings and small town structures that recall nature. For example, consider Dalessio’s Watch Factory in Sag Harbor, a configuration that would feel at home in a foreign countryside. Conversely, a row of village storefronts reminds us of a group of Tuscan trees.
What accounts for Dalessio’s way of looking at his subjects, we wonder? The fact that Dalessio has lived in diverse parts of the world may motivate him to convey a sense of metaphor. While he was born in Fiji, he was raised in Los Angeles and lived in Florence, Italy, for 20 years. His travel with a group of plein air artist has taken him to Sweden, Norway, a barge trip in France, Africa and Burma. And, naturally, there’s Sag Harbor, where he has spent every summer for 14 years, painting under the auspices of the Grenning Gallery. Art dealer Laura Grenning recalls her first meeting Dalessio in Florence during the late 1990s, at the Charles Cecil School, after learning he was famous in Florence.
Asked what attracted her to Dalessio’s art, Grenning did not hesitate answering: “He’s an incredibly talented draftsman and portrait artist, doing portrait commissions for the
aristocrats in Florence and Tuscany. He gets paid, not in money, but with wine and olive oil. And he’s invited to stay in his clients’ mansions to paint. That’s why a lot of his subjects are estates.”
There are other subjects that Dalessio also paints. His most recent works are scenes in Plyos, Russia, where a cultural exchange has been organized by the Landscape Museum there. We can’t help but be impressed by two particular sites: The Church of Resurrection and a vista of Plyos from a hill. Then there are his indigenous images of Southern Croatia, along the coast, showing wet clothes hanging on the line. Scenes in Ireland feature both boats on a bay and a tractor in the field. We can’t help but be reminded of Sag Harbor and its environs.
Asked about Dalessio’s contribution to his profession, Grenning says he’s the most dedicated “traditional” artist that she knows (he makes his own pigments) and is always discovering new lighting effects and subject matter. Edwina Lucas, Grenning’s assistant, adds that Dalessio is very prolific and passionate about his work. As an example, she relates how he created 12 paintings in three days this past summer when his work was stuck in customs at JFK and his opening at the Grenning Gallery was imminent. (His paintings arrived on time.)
According to Grenning, Dalessio will be here next summer preparing for another show, bringing his world of art to Sag Harbor.
Marc Dalessio’s exhibit is on view at Sag Harbor’s Grenning Gallery (17 Washington Street) until October 6. Call 631-725-8469 for additional information.