Joseph Liberti: The Nature of the Moment.
"...[T]hose in the field of art and science who recognize novel patterns see beauty before the rest of us do." Leonard Shlain, Art and Physics.
At this writing, it is autumn. Leaves of all varieties swirl around us as we walk through the crisp breezes of the season. We certainly appreciate the beauty of the colors, some reds, some golds, some orange tones with a touch of leftover green, but do we really "see" them. A look at Joseph Liberti's Midnight Oak Dance suggests that there is more than what first meets the eye. More than just a pretty jumble of fallen leaves, at the very center is a vortex, the swirl of which is made still by a photograph, the way a distant galaxy is captured by the camera of a probe shot into outer space. Here in this stilled moment, nature shows us a microcosmic view of what it does on a grander scale light years away from our little planet. The veins of the leaves are prominent as the fiber of the leaves turn toward the colors of decay. These veins reach out like the spokes of a wheel, ever turning as they move forward to their inevitable end. Yet, even in this, their last hurrah, they fan out in an elegant dance that has a graceful beauty made more poignant by the darkened background of midnight. The artist has chosen to make this painting a nocturne to reinforce that beautiful last spin these oak leaves take, even though they are going the way of all things.
When it comes to "seeing," Liberti has developed his own special way to suss out his subject matter. He says, "Sometimes I feel it first, and sometimes I see it first. I become aware of a different energy. It usually seems suddenly quiet. Then there is light on a piece of nature that draws me to it. It is not uncommon for me to walk past something and suddenly turn around and go back looking for 'it'." That "it" is what he captures, first usually with a camera and then in his studio. Through digital processes, including use of a computer, a tablet, software, overlays, and digital painting, he creates a work that is then printed on paper, canvas, or metal, and finally framed.
"...a medium of communication is not merely a passive conduit for the transmission of information, but rather an active force in creating new social patterns and new perceptual realities." Leonard Shlain, Art and Physics.
The description of his process is anything but a passive conduit for the transmission of information. Though the flow of working on any particular piece will have a life of its own, the overall feeling comes from a central ideal that Liberti has. He speaks of looking at nature with "soft eyes" in order to glean the whole of an experience of it at any given moment, a gestalt, if you will. What he produces are abstract expressions of his experiences with and within nature. "I tend to create a dreamy effect of the whole that is compelling yet easy to step into and be a part of," says Liberti. Certainly when looking at Lavender Breeze one gets the feeling of an ordinary scene turned into an extraordinary moment. The view from below of the upward movement of the naked tree branches is anything but our normal eye-level view of a tree. It allows us to appreciate the simple majesty of a tree whose leaves have flown, it's smaller branches fanned out in the breeze like the sea grasses that wave to and fro with the tides of the ocean. The soft, hazy, dreamy quality of those branches and the gentle background of pastel colors invite the mind to wander and relate one part of nature to another and another. This reverie is what the artist means when he says, "I want my art to be used by the viewer, as often as they may, to enter into a moment of engagement with the sublime."
As any nature-lover or outdoor enthusiast in the Southwest knows, there is a lot of colorful beauty in "them thar hills." Top of the Trail certainly recreates one of those wonderful colorful experiences. However, Liberti heightens that with a turn toward the abstract. Through his digital intervention, the artist is able to embellish the view with what seems like streams of energy, as though the earth's inner vibrations were suddenly made visible. This embellishment of a scene is reminiscent of what can happen in music when the musician improvises as he is playing, something that is a hallmark of jazz.
Jazz is something that Liberti knows well, as he is also a musician who goes by the moniker, FluteDaddy. Liberti finds the ability to improvise to be a strong parallel between jazz and his creation in the plastic arts. He compares the two by saying, "In music I build a collage of sounds, pieces of other tunes, and rhythms and tones. Creating art is very similar for me...I start with a photo I have taken, then I improvise using light, color, other images, overlays, and paint. There is no thrill quite like it."
Liberti's ability to go deep in his thinking about his art allows him to pose questions to the viewers of his work. On first glance one might think this is a creature from another dimension, as we are not accustomed to looking at a simple flower this way. The petals are handled in a way that makes them seem like streams of energy coming from a rocket. They are blasted back away from the center of the flower, making it look like some otherworldly object that has come to inspect our planet. This feeling of movement supports the name of this piece, Time Traveler. Yet this traveler hasn't come from some other world. It is a common flower that has traveled through the ages right here. In its generations it has seen empires rise and fall, and humans go from hunter/gatherers to Wall Street brokers. It is perhaps one of the Earth's oldest witnesses.
Liberti has said of his art that he hopes that it will call people back to the nature that they came from and help preserve this beautiful planet. When we look at this time traveler, it begs the question of how much more time it will have to travel, thus reinforcing the artist's concern with preserving the planet.
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Leonard Shlain, Art and Physics.
Snowy Bluff at first seems like an odd title for a painting that seems so full of autumn. The last leaves of the trees being swept down the steep hillside by an unseen wind wave themselves about like orange and red fingers trying to cling onto their precarious perch on the branches, while those very branches cling in desperation to that unforgiving, steep, sparse hillside of red rock. Yes, it is autumn, but it is the end, and that is what makes those patches of snow so important. They are the harbingers of what that invisisble wind is bringing. This close-up of a small section of a rocky hillside is not what we normally think of when we think of landscape. Yet, if we have "new eyes," we understand that landscape is simply the shape of the land, whether it is vast or whether it is a limited area. In one sense, Liberti has done something particularly special here. His look with "new eyes" focused in on this piece of earth almost as though it were a still life, a portion of a greater area, but one that draws particular attention, like a beautiful object in the grander setting of a whole house. While movement is indicated, if one steps back, the whole thing becomes a beautiful confluence of color in a carefully captured still photo of a moment in time.
"Van Gogh resonated to the harmonic vibrations of color like the tines of a tuning fork." Leonard Shlain, Art and Physics.
Vibrations, yes, colors and musical notes both work through vibrations. We often even speak of colors as being particularly vibrant, so it is clear that we naturally sense the role of vibration. In Hollyhock Abstract, Liberti applies his sensitivity and knowledge of music to how colors work. By shifting the tones of the colors and applying the artistry afforded him by digital technology, the artist gives us a sense of the different intensities of color and presents the hollyhock vibrating as though it is singing an operatic aria.
Liberti is not just always out in the beautiful nature that surrounds Colorado Springs. He is also quite involved in the local arts community. Knowing that art is about communication, Liberti is an active member of a group for local artists called CosCreativ, which before the Pandemic used to meet once a month for lunch to share news, ideas, and other information. The Facebook page for CosCreativ has become the place were artist members can display their new work and announce upcoming shows and other events. His musical work has been highlighted on PeakRadar.com. VoyageDenver.com and ShoutOutColorado.com have done "Meet the Artist" articles on Liberti. Currently, he is exhibiting work at Kreuser Gallery in downtown Colorado Springs. Through any of these, you can also "meet the artist," and you will be happy you did.
You can see more of Liberti's work at his
Art Inspired by Nature website:
Follow him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/flutedaddy/
Here are other contact points for Liberti:
For Support: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: 719 - 422-5299
For Sales and Art Information: Art@JosephLiberti.com Telephone: 719 - 422-5299
Joseph Liberti 3735 Saints Ct Colorado Springs Co, 80904
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© Marjorie Vernelle 2021