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Aug 05, 2007 News: The Power of Art: Understanding David DeRosa
By vanrozenheim

As undefined as visual art can sometimes be there is still a measured structure to it which can resonate with a viewer so much so that it “pops” from the canvass into the psyche of a mesmerized admirer. Termed as pop impressionism, this style of artistic expression has been perfected by San Francisco artist, David Derosa, whose recent “Catachismic” series takes on a distinctly spiritual theme while using opposing shades of light and dark, positive and negative shapes with text that contain dual meanings of his subjects in everyday poses.

“I hope to create an open forum for dialogue through the use of carefully rendered, modern reincarnations of religious symbols, iconography and universal themes of spirituality and humanism as it applies to a broader, more contemporary audience – pack it into a van and take it across America in an attempt at connecting people on several levels and to help promote my idea of a deeper and more fulfilling worldview” DeRosa explains.

The History and Inspiration of David DeRosa

With a drafting, printmaking and graphic design background over the course of time David DeRosa’s art has taken on more texture and depth in his interpretation of life through the artistic vessels of shapes, colors and imagery.

His inspiration he explains is “Life, music, geometry, and color theory. There has always been art. For me, it's like being Italian, I just am.”

For most of his life art has been an expression by which David could create a new world from the tragic remains of the existing one. It has been a mechanism by which he could reveal both the complexity and the simplicity of human life as well as its vibrant essence and resilience.

“Art to me is a compulsion by which I filter the sad, ridiculous and poignant details of a society gone tragically awry. By stripping my subject down to its core, I reveal the abstract complexity and beautiful simplicity of a world which is truly alive. I then guide my intuition and subjective feeling with both calculated intent and precision to navigate the nonlinear and present a more deliberate reality.”

The Catachismic Series

The mission of the “Catachismic Series” is to create an open and free flowing space for conversation among people of different religious backgrounds across America through the interaction between the viewer and the artwork.

But it has an even deeper meaning for Derosa. The series is actually a summation of the last 15 years of his life. The word “Catachismic” is an invented term derived from cataclysmic and catechism. When DeRosa was 18, he left the Catholic Church and set out to determine what he believed in, what he didn’t believe in and why.

“I became an amateur theologist reading everything about everything. This, in addition to my class load, working full time and a variety of personal conflicts resulted in a complete and total meltdown just as I was finishing college. As a result, I spent the next half-decade being very lost and very strung out on anti-depressants.

In 2003 – on my 30th birthday – I pulled a 180 and got my head – for lack of a better term – out of my ass, revisited a drawing style I once abandoned and began doing the paintings and working in the style that I'm now known for” he explains.

Hence, the Catachismic series became a necessary catharsis that would enable DeRosa to

move on to the next stage of his life with a clearer sense of what's what. In fact he encapsulates his spiritual beliefs as the following: “I hold no beliefs, only opinions. Right now, I like the term Mystical Humanist…. I might say that art is my religion. It's how I connect to whatever divine may be.”

The Pop Impressionism, Visual Ad-libbing and Spirituality

Throughout history, art has been one of the principal ways for one to express their personal journey and to share this experience with others. David DeRosa describes his style of art as pop impressionism because he uses lots of orange and blue creating a visual intensity that visually vibrates with the light and physically pops to the eye.

In addition, David uses a painting technique which he calls visual ad-libbing where he edits out “superfluous information” allowing the mind to piece in the rest. For example in his self portrait David left out the outlines allowing the human eye to actually finish the shape for you.

Although his back and face are present, there is no line connecting the two together but through what is called visual stereotyping the mind fills in the blanks of how things should look. “You just put it there. I leave out of visual details but include a lot of hidden subtext” he meticulously explains

Pretty soon DeRosa began combining both his style and his technique to provide social commentaries through the use of secular imagery sprung from his religious background and through his personal journey.

For example, he created a succession of paintings depicting the 7 deadly sins. The painting representing the sin of lust is of a woman viewed from the back who is seated with her legs crossed turned to one side. She’s drawn with panties to show “allure, sexuality.” Included over her are the words “For Sale.”

DeRosa used three different shades of blues and gray to create the piece with the social commentary that “Everything being sold for with sex…complete objectification. In our country the female form is used almost exclusively” to sell and advertise products and services.

In the piece representing the sin of wrath, DeRosa used several different shades of reds and black to accentuate certain points. The foreground of the painting is that of a four or five year old child who is squatting down to pick up a military assault rifle. The background of the painting is of a wooded area depicting a recent explosion colored in bright orange and red.

DeRosa’s commentary is that “ Wrath is not something you are born with but it is something that we teach our children. We must stop teaching our children about it. Stop passing on our insecurity and our hate on to our children so that they can perpetuate it.”

To counter the darker elements of man’s inhumanity to man, DeRosa also created a succession of paintings depicting the 7 virtues.

In the painting depicting faith, there is a hand coming out of the painting as if a person was extending their hand for you to shake it. It’s a very simple image leading up to a suited arm and a tie.

For DeRosa, the concept of trust was a major issue for him growing up. “When you shake someone’s hand, that’s your word, stick to it no matter what. This just is not something that I do lightly.”

Closure and a Renewed Sense of Understanding

So far there are at least 40 different pieces in the “Catachismic Series” of which 20 were lifted and placed on a tour earlier this summer. Cathartic in nature, the series has helped to bring about closure of a 15 year stretch of questioning and understanding of David DeRosa’s faith and spirituality.

At one point in his life David thought that he was an atheist and that he had lost his faith in God. But through his spiritual evolution he recognized that he actually had lost his faith in people instead. So the Catachismic Series provides a sense of understanding and firm closure of David’s life as he moves on to a new plane of existence and creativity in his artistically gifted and challenged life.

To listen to a radio podcast of David DeRosa, click here:

To read more about David DeRosa and to view and purchase his work, access him online at: www.artprimadonna.net

Herndon Davis is an author, lecturer, and TV/Radio host. He can be reached directly at www.herndondavis.com

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