Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fantasy Art - Caniglia

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

Jeremy Caniglia is an American painter born in Omaha, Nebraska on July 13, 1970. He graduated in 1993 the Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in drawing, painting and printmaking. In 1995 he received the Master of Fine Arts degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art. His marvelous works were featured on magazines, books, albums and CD covers and are in private collections around the world. In 2004 Shocklines Press released a book “As Dead as Leaves – The Art of Caniglia” which features his works from the last 10 years. His works and talent were rewarded with two nominations for the International Horror Guild Award for best artist in dark fantasy and horror in 2003 and 2004 and in 2004 with the prestigious award. In 2005 Caniglia was nominated for the first time for the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist in Fantasy.

Interview - Caniglia

Dark Wolf: Jeremy thank you for your amiability and the opportunity of this interview.
What has attracted you toward art and when did you become aware of your talent?
Jeremy Caniglia: The first thing that really attracted me to the arts would have to be the church paintings and frescoes that I observed as a child. I grew up in a strong Italian Catholic family and we would always visit different Churches and Cathedrals. I found myself always staring at the emotional renaissance style paintings on the walls while mass was going on. I loved the drama and depth in the artwork.
I first was interested in art as a career when I was in High school. It was my junior year and I was taking band as my artistic elective. I wasn’t doing very well and I got kicked out of band, and I really did not care, but then I was forced to take an art class.
It was a dream come true. I could not believe that a two - dimensional surface could become three- dimensional with the stroke of a brush. When I started creating art for the first time it was like a light came on and this is what I wanted to do in life. I wanted to turn a blank canvas into a scene from my imagination. It was incredible to see the emotional reactions of people to something I drew or painted. I now had the power to irritate, manipulate, or motivate. This is the path I would choose and I haven’t stopped painting… since taking that first art class.

Dark Wolf: You studied with the abstract expressionist Grace Hartigan. How did your teacher change your career? You were attracted by the abstract since the beginning or did your teacher have an influence on your choices?
Jeremy Caniglia: As you might know Grace Hartigan died last month and I am still quite depressed from loosing such a great friend and mentor. She was such an incredible artist. She was filled to the brim with life and love for all things artistic.
In 1993 I was selected and given a full scholarship by Grace Hartigan to come study under her at the Maryland Institute College of Art. It was the most incredible two years of my artist growth in a school setting. Grace was brilliant. One of the best abstract expressionist to come out of the 1950's. She had learned and painted with Jackson Pollack and William De Kooning. Her stories were incredible and her insight into my work was like a director giving advice to an actor. She questioned my development and made me really refine what I wanted in life and art. Even though we had very different styles our message was the same. We painted life for what it was... love, birth and death. She is such an inspiration and I still hear her voice in my head when I paint today. I really feel after looking back on that time that she subconsciously brought a lot of modern contemporary feel to my figurative work.

Dark Wolf: You also say that you are influenced by the Old Masters, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio. How did they inspire and influence you?
Jeremy Caniglia: Artist that have had a huge influence on me are the old masters. Leonardo da Vinci's old drawings created in brilliant burnt sienna tones on yellow paper in his notebooks are brilliant. His studies hold so much inspiration. His inventions, science, animal, and human studies are amazing! It has always pulled at me emotionally. I love looking at them and to this day I study them like they are clues from the past to the hope of the future. I am also captivated by Caravaggio's paintings and his in-depth technique of drama in art. His use of color and chiaroscuro... use of light and shadow is unmatched. His work is very theatrical in a way almost as if the viewer has just come upon a scene on the streets and they are witnessing it first hand. They are harsh and at the same time honest.
These two artists are very inspirational to my work. They keep me digging deeper into my imagination for new ideas that are just as bold and truthful.

DW: Your portfolio consists almost exclusively in Horror works. What attracts you towards this genre?
JC: The main thing that attracts me towards the genre of Horror is the human condition. I feel that life is so short and fragile, that it must not be taken for granted. I try to explore and express the many emotional levels and layers that life gives us and the ones that most people turn away from.

DW: I really like your works and your approach on Horror. And I mean here that your works are not necessary gory or bloody, but more an in depth and psychological horror. Does psychology play a role in your creations? Are you interested in psychology?
JC: Psychology plays a huge role in my art. My work as I mentioned has always been about the human condition and the layers that are hidden beneath it. I show situations that most people don't want to even talk about. For instance suicide, rape, and street violence. Suicide is increasing in our modern society. It is an issue that needs to be addressed. Why are the youth in such despair that they feel they have nowhere to turn. I also feel for victims of rape who are preyed upon by the wolves of our society. I am also saddened by the street violence of the youth and gangs in the inner cities. So many lives lost for what? My work makes people see the issues they would like to sweep under the rug.
I am very interested in psychology and I read a lot. Carl Jung is amazing and has so many great ideas that I agree with. He really emphasized the importance of balance and harmony in our lives. He cautioned society on relying to heavy on logic and science and search for inner spirituality and appreciation for the unconscious realm. I try all of these things in my work.
I also love Joseph Campbell and his ideas of universal truths. I also feel Henry David Thoreau's book "Walden" has great insight into society and what is really important in this world. One quote that I love is when he said "There are none happy in the world but beings who enjoy freely a vast horizon".

DW: Do you think that the Horror works have a more powerful impact on the viewer, psychological and emotional, than other works from other genres?
JC: Yes and no. I feel that a lot of horror art does have a powerful impact on viewers but I also see art from other types of genres that are just as powerful. A great painting is a great painting and really doesn’t have to belong to a movement or a genre for the universal message to be seen and felt.

DW: Also many of your works are focused on children. How much different is a child subject than an adult one? And speaking of emotional impact does a child have a more powerful impact in a horror setting than an adult person?
JC: Children are a huge part of my art. Children are the seed of hope for the future and they must be protected at all cost. I have two children and I am very protective of them. I really feel paintings with children have a more powerful impact then adults in paintings. The reason I feel this way is because the children represent the innocence in all of us that we try to preserve. It seems like from are early days in youth that society wants us to grow up so fast and devour the inner child that we have in all of us. It is important to hold on to the dreams we have as children and keep that spirit alive.

DW: Your interest in Horror goes outside art as well? I mean do you enjoy Horror movies and novels?
JC: I really don’t watch a lot of Horror movies or read that many horror novels. I mostly find myself reading old art books and a lot of Thoreau (Walden). I spend most of my free time with my wife and kids and enjoying a very simple life.

DW: You illustrated a great number of Horror novels. What implicates the work on book covers? For which novel did you enjoyed the most making the cover?
JC: Yes, I have illustrated over 60 novels so far. I always read every story I illustrate because I have to get into the world that the author has created. It is very important to me to immerse myself in the story like an actor does in a movie. I really enjoyed the covers I created for Margo Lanagan’s “Red Spikes”, as well as Douglas Clegg’s “Neverland” and Tom Piccirilli’s “Choir of Ill Children”.

DW: Did you meet any of the authors of these novels? With which one would you like to work again and with which new one would you like to work?
JC: I have met with most of the authors that I work with. When it is not possible to meet with them in person, I mostly e-mail ideas back and forth with the authors.
I would love to work with Neil Gaiman or Guillermo del Toro.

DW: You have also your own book, “As Dead as Leaves”. How was the work on this project? How selective you had to be with your works for this book?
JC: “As Dead as Leaves” brought together 10 years worth of paintings, drawings, photos and etchings. It only has about a ¼ of my work in it but it has some of my very important paintings that I wanted to document. This project took about 2 years to create and a lot of layout and design work. It does have some covers in it but it has a lot of my art that has been sold in personal gallery and Museum shows. The book goes through the seasons of my work as well as life itself. It ranges from scenes of angels and bliss to scenes of pure hell. Everything that life gives us.

DW: At the beginning of your gallery is stated and I quote: “He creates imaginary worlds, where civilizations have gone to pieces, in hopes that they will choose another path”. How are looking Jeremy Caniglia’s worlds? Is a story behind this worlds and their art presentation?
JC: Every one of my paintings has a story in it. Most of the time I leave it ambiguous so that it can be interpreted many different ways. Yes my art is a type of warning. It shows worlds gone wrong in hopes that society will choose another path. I show people a glimpse of their own mortality in hopes they will love their life and go home and hug the person they love. I think people spend their whole lives searching for signs and angels... and all the time they were right in front of them. They are the faces of their lover, children, and family. They just need to be reminded what is really important. I feel my art does offer hope, it is subtle but it is hope.

DW: Do you think that our world will suffer a tragic end? Do you think that our future is more grim than bright?
JC: I don’t think our world will suffer a tragic end. This is yet another dark time in our history. War, terrorism, disease, and poverty have engulfed the globe. It seems to me that peace or the concept of peace on earth, or even between neighbors at times seems like a lost idea. People always ask why a majority of my art centers on birth and death. I guess the answer would be it helps me understand the impermanence of life on this planet.
By bringing ego and materialism into perspective we will find truth and wisdom lying within those willing to listen. There is always light in the darkest of places and our future is bright.

DW: Speaking of books, art and imaginary worlds, did you ever considered crossing the border on the writers’ side? Creating so many powerful images did you ever thought on putting those wonderful images in words?
JC: Yes, I am currently working on two short novels which I hope to finish by 2010. I have them mostly written but I am still editing and rewriting them. They are stories that are based on the worlds inside my paintings. Very surreal.

DW: How much different is promoting your art book than a personal art show? Do you like the interaction with the viewers at your art shows?
JC: Promoting my book was a lot different since some people in the Horror genre had never seen my personal work and the people at my gallery shows had never seen my book illustrations. I have found that my work is crossing a lot of genres of people and they are enjoying the book for the work of art that it is. The book is almost sold out in Hardcover and I have some softcovers available as well.
I love interacting with viewers. I love to hear their insight into my paintings even if it is bad.

DW: You won International Horror Guild Award for the Best Artist. How did you feel when you won this award and what changes did it bring to your career?
JC: I was very honored to win the IHG award and to be including into such a history of incredible artist. It did bring a lot more interest to my work as well as some movie concept work. I must say that awards are great but they by no means make you a better artist. I don’t feel I need an award to validate my art. In the end it is the artist who must validate themselves and find the truth in their own work.

DW: You work almost exclusively with the traditional methods. And you have success in fields, Horror genre, book illustrations and covers, not necessarily dominated but influenced by digital art. Have you tried the modern tools used in art? What do you think about the digital art?
JC: I have tried my hand at digital art but I am not comfortable with it. I love oil paints and I love the smell of turpentine and the feel of paint moving on a canvas. I must have the real mediums in my hands to create.
I personal love some of the digital art that is being created for books and movies. Art is art no matter how it is made. As long as it comes from imagination at the controls of creativity.

DW: In the future would you like to work with someone in particular? What projects do you have for the future?
JC: I would love to work with the band “The Shins” or “Death Cab for Cutie”. I love their music and I would love to create art for one of their projects.
I am currently working on a new artbook that will feature about 50 of my latest personal oil paintings that no one has seen. I hope to have the book finished by late 2009 or early 2010.

Thank you very much for your time and answers. It has been a pleasure :)
Thank you I really appreciate your questions.

For comprehensive information about Jeremy Caniglia and for a complete portfolio please visit Caniglia's website, Caniglia Art.

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

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