81 Leonard Gallery is pleased to present Resurface, a solo exhibition of mixed media painting and sculpture by New York-based artist Vincent Donato. Resurface bears emotion that is simultaneously raw and refined; an intriguing balance is struck between the artist’s adherence to a lexicon of symbols and his preference for chaos and mess. The works featured materialize a period of personal Renaissance for the artist characterized by change, growth, reflection, and discovery.

Donato’s signature motif is the image of the rose, representing life when standing vertically and death when laid horizontal. Living and simultaneously dying, alluring and thorned, roses hold the tension that Donato relishes in painting. He first began painting by studying his grandfather’s rose bush, which was half dead yet still producing new flowers. His grandmother also kept around her house preserved roses from family members’ funerals, a tender yet eerie homage. The artist’s obsession with the rose is evident, as is his tendency to depict vitality through the more commonly used vertical orientation.

Growing up in his grandfather’s old workshop, and now working in it as his studio, Donato’s material choice emerged from his surroundings. He uses a plethora of both traditional and industrial materials, including oil paint, beeswax, wire, marble dust, and found windows and doors. A self-taught creative, he worked with what was around him, developing an interest in simplicity and material transformation. His steel wire sculptures pare down forms into seemingly familiar objects suggestive of ritual use.

Standing Sculpture evokes that which may be either given to a lover or dedicated to the deceased, while the Wreath series brings to mind holy decorations and shrines. Inspired by the drama and narrative quality of work by artists such as Frances Bacon and Alexandre Cabanel as well as the materials of Joseph Bueys’ social sculpture and the simplicity of Alberto Giacometti’s figures, Donato’s oeuvre synthesizes a variety of modes into a form of visual communication that is entirely his own.

Like his venerative approach to sculpture, Donato’s paintings use compositional framing to present the rose as a performer, the painting a stage. Met with a palette of dark, gray, and blush tones, the works capture emotion in all its power and sublimity, exalting the human experience and mirroring the viewer’s susceptibility to overwhelming feelings and compulsion toward expression.

Each painting begins with a specific feeling to be matched visually and viscerally, a process that involves layers of paint and textured materials applied to a surface with brushes that Donato cuts with knives or scissors for the desired effect and hand feel. The pieces emerge through intuitive decision-making, and the results often contain unplanned synchronicities relating back to moments or events in the artist’s life. The marvel of coincidence reveals itself in exercises of self-analysis, heightening the sensation that everything is as it should be.

Vincent Donato Roselli (b. 1995) is a self-taught artist from Staten Island, NY. His first exposure to painting was graffiti, and he continues to incorporate old-school street art methods in his practice. Vincent creates within a chaotic studio space, utilizing a variety of found substances from dust on the floor to old brush water left in glass jars. He has had solo exhibitions at The National Arts Club (NY) and Chinatown Soup (NY) and has also shown work at venues including Prince Street Gallery (NY) and First Street Gallery (NY).