Crayon Vanitas, pastel, 12" x 18" (image)
Serenata Misteriosa, oil, 18" x 24" (image)
To many painters, still life is an occasional exercise, a way perhaps of honing their skills through an intense focus on the object. To Pat Tribastone, it is the highest form of the painter's art. But in Pat's still life paintings, the objects are not merely vehicles for displaying the skills of the painter (though they certainly do so) nor for reminding the viewer of the transience of all worldly things. The objects in Tribastone's still life paintings present themselves for display. They are nearly at eye level with the viewer and lay on a surface which, although the converging planks may suggest a spatial recession, is unobtrusive. The background is usually dark and undefined, and the juncture of horizontal and vertical surfaces is indistinct. These aspects of the work, together with the strong light source casting shadows and glinting off the surface of things, push the objects forward in a declaration of their monumental presence.
Tribastone's paintings are about the life of objects and about the life those objects represent. The arrangements are not casual but of clear contrivance, and the objects, though still (morte), speak of the living. In "Crayon Vanitas," for example, the "vanity" seems to refer to a sensual love of line and color: a love not only in the present but recollected from objects of childhood. There is no memento mori here; the tone is celebratory, and the life celebrated in Tribastone's paintings is usually that of the living artist, be he/she painter, musician, or cook.
But if Tribastone's paintings are about the meanings resident in the objects depicted, they are also about the space which objects create in their relation to one another. The objects give off a visual aura and seem to elide with other objects nearby. This is achieved technically by the artist's careful use of colors both complementary and analogous. In "Pittura Rustico I," for example, the complementary red/violets and greens pull the vegetables depicted into harmonious union, a union marked by the color of the copper pot in the background. "Serenata Misteriosa" and "Mandolin and Rose," on the other hand, appear exercises in saturation and value within a single color. The objects relate to one another because they are of the same basic hue. Tribastone's compositions lie firmly in a tradition eloquently defined by Mark Doty; they are "compositions in which the terms are reduced, and their import seems to lie not in plenty but in the poetry of relation."*
Pat Tribastone has exhibited extensively throughout the United States, winning numerous awards and prizes. Sshe was awarded a first place (oil and acrylic category) at the Hilton Head National Biennial Exhibition (2013) and the Dianne Bernhard Gold Medal Award at the Pastel Society of America's 2013 exhibition. She lives and teaches in Rochester, New York.
Note: Mark Doty, Still Life with Oysters and Lemon, Beacon Press, Boston, 2001, p.35.
Home Cooking, oil on board
Christmas Carnations, oil on board
Double Takes, oil on board
Good Luck, Bad Luck, pastel on paper
Not for Love or Money, pastel on paper
Pittura Rustico I, oil, 12" x 16" (image)
Mandolin and Rose, oil, 18" x 24" (image)
Dance in E Minor, oil, 12" x 16" (image)
Pure Play, pastel, 16" x 20" (image)
Americana, pastel on paper
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