Select Paintings by Edward Boccia

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Edward Boccia Nereus Reborn 1960 .jpg

Edward E. Boccia Nereus Reborn, 1960, oil on canvas triptych, side panels 93 x 25, center panel 93 x 48,  Collection of University of St. Louis, Missouri

 


Edward Boccia’s career as a painter may be poetically referred to as a grand house with many rooms. Some rooms, although elegant, are lived in briefly. Other rooms, made more comfortable by the artist’s personal associations, are occupied for years. No room is permanently closed. The artist moves freely from room to room, constantly borrowing ideas from where he has stayed before. The paintings and drawings in this exhibition are grouped by thematic concerns beginning with character sketches done in France during World War II and ending with a nine-panel painting, Eugene’s Journey (1996) that draws upon all of the artist’s skills as a painter and poet. (Museum of Contemporary Religious Art)

 

 

The American painter Edward E. Boccia’s most important works were large-scale, often as multiple panels. The oil on canvas pictures required a rather long process including a laborious building of composition, form, and pigment.

The artist was inspired in part by the traditions of ecclesiastical art, including altarpieces, while inflected with the tone, style and modern pictorial language of artists such as Max Beckmann. Often Boccia’s paintings seem alight with a sacral sense of light, and the eerie shadows and spotlighting of the Surrealist school. This admixture comes together to create an arresting pictorial language that remains quite his own.

This gallery offers a selection of key works by the artist, among them some of the largest and most ambitious works, as well as some of the more disturbing and puzzling pieces.

 

To see such work in reproduction is certainly no match for witnessing the presence and shocking iconography of Boccia’s work, that dance between desire, images of stigmata, crowded spaces peopled with strange creatures and self portraits, awash in ominous shadows and illuminated areas of paint.

 

Never the less, it is important to showcase these remarkable pieces in particular, and make images of this artist’s achievements accessible to the public. In many ways this curated galleries expresses the way Boccia saw style, as an ends to a mean, namely the creation of truly mysterious, atelier style painting that had echoes of historic greats, not in terms of formal cues, but in the sense that all art should evoke a sense of the anima, the spirit and soul.

On the occasion of Boccia’s monographic show at the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art in 1996, the elusive and complex nature of Edward Boccia’s practice was summed up beautifully as follows

It is with the open eye of the painter surveying the pivotal movements in 20th-century art that we will see the work by Boccia that touches on Cubism and Surrealism, American Regionalism of the 1930s, German Expressionism of the 1920s, and Neo-Expressionism of the 1970s. For Boccia all rooms are open today, and it is for us to decide where we should linger. Boccia’s career literally spans a lifetime. (MOCRA)


 

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Edward E. Boccia Mystique Marriage, 1979, oil on canvas, triptych, Collection of Jennifer Paternikis, Athens, Greece

 

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Photograph of Boccia’s painting The Wedding Reception, oil on canvas, 55 x 63 in the artist’s studio c.1979

 

 

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Edward E. Boccia Dark Night of the Soul, 1987, oil on canvas, triptych, Private Collection

 

 

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Edward E. Boccia Eugene’s Journey, 1996, oil on canvas, 68 x 184, nine panel polyptych, Collection of The Artist Trust

 


All Rights Reserved, The Edward E. Boccia and Madeleine J. Boccia Artist Trust.

Art + the Sea -The Early Paintings of Edward E. Boccia

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fig-3-boccia-1958-dreams-of-sea-mythEdward E. Boccia Dreams of Sea Myth, 1958, oil on canvas diptych, each panel 47 x 23, Collection of The Artist Trust

Fresco like matte surface is matched by a whirling fluid dynamism in Boccia’s early paintings such as Sea Myth, 1958. In the exhibition catalog published on the occasion of one of many retrospectives, the artist comments on the significance of the sea in his work:

“And yet, it is the sea—that vast and primal home of early origins—which revitalizes, in its ebb and flow, the very soul wherefrom my stirrings take their form.” He elucidates that as well the white sail is the “torn spirit” the upturned boat is a metaphor for birth, what the artist calls a “world embryo” who will stop Nereus’ abduction of the bird woman.” (Some Notes by the Artist” in E. Boccia A Retrospective Exhibition. October 30 – December 8, 1960. The Pius XII Memorial Library, St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri).

Edward Boccia Nereus Reborn 1960 .jpgEdward E. Boccia Nereus Reborn, 1960, oil on canvas triptych, center panel 93 x 48 and side panels: 93 x 25, Collection of University of St. Louis, Missouri

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Recent Publication about Modernist Painting and Boccia

Recent article on Boccia and his links to modernist mid century artistic practice and critical reception.“Cezanne’s Apple and Edward E. Boccia Hierarchy, Revolt and Artistic Innovation in 20th-Century America.” by Rosa JH Berland, Ekphrasis (2067-631X) . 2015, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p118-141. 24p

The reconstruction of the twenty-first-century imagination (ideologies that shape our “imagined world”) and aesthetic view through the “authentic” modes of abstraction, conceptualism, and the lens of media and digital technology has led to a new way of understanding and experiencing creativity. While these are certainly new or original critical experiences, there are other types of creativity, ideologies and imaginary worlds that are quite separate, and sometimes polemically opposed to this genre of making and looking. An example of this type of creative visualization and boycotting of the supposedly authentic gesture is the work of the late American artist Edward E. Boccia, who devoted much of his life to a series of panel paintings that take as their subject problems of politics and society, as well as religious experience in the twentieth century. Made between 1956 -2006, the large scale altarpieces represent the phenomenon of figural creativity produced in traditional studio mediums in mid- to late twentieth-century America.

For access to this entire article, please check with your college/university library, local public library, or affiliated institution.

Copyright of Ekphrasis (2067-631X) is the property of Babes-Bolyai-University, Faculty of Theatre & Television.