How the West Was Won
April 7, 2012
through May 5, 2012
NEW YORK, NY (February 14, 2012) — Jonathan LeVine Gallery is pleased to present How the West Was Won, a series of new oil paintings on canvas and works on paper by Italian-born, Los Angeles-based artist Nicola Verlato, in what will be his first solo exhibition at the gallery.
Verlato’s dramatic allegorical compositions are rendered with remarkable use of perspective, reminiscent of the Renaissance-era. The show title, How the West Was Won, refers to the culture clash between monotheism and polytheism throughout human history, a battle that the artist believes to be at the very roots of the development of western civilization. In Verlato’s words: “Figurative art is intrinsically related to a polytheistic attitude (cult of idols) while the monotheistic one prohibits graven images, as written in the bible. Monotheism clearly won in most aspects of western culture but polytheism still survives in pop culture.”
One of the paintings is inspired by a medieval legend in which a Christian knight kills a Pagan knight but is castrated by his victim in the process. This symbolizes the loss of “wisdom of the body,” when polytheistic cultures succumb to religious conversion and assimilation into monotheistic ideals. Verlato transposes this narrative into the American Wild West of the 19th Century in his painting Conquest of the West, where a cowboy representing the monotheist attacks a Native American woman, representing the polytheist, who exacts revenge just before she dies. This epic battle scene is the most literal interpretation of the exhibition’s overarching theme, although the connection is looser in many of the other works.
Burzum is a painting inspired by a Norwegian black metal band of the same name, led by Varge Vikernes, a musician who was imprisoned in 1993 for the arson of several churches and murder of Euronymous—a guitarist friend-turned-rival and leading figure in the scene—who he stabbed to death in a dispute over record label business. A Whiter Shade of Pale is a portrait of the late pop-music-icon Michael Jackson, the subject of worldwide idolatry during his life and prolific career, lasting well after his controversial death. Take the Road to Nowhere portrays four young women jumping out of a car as it falls off of a cliff, relating to death as the last frontier; beyond which there is nothing else.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Nicola Verlato was born in 1965 in Verona, Italy. He began painting at a very early age. Trained in Classical music, and with an interest in Rock, he has also composed music for documentary films. Verlato studied architecture at the University of Venice and moved to New York in 2004. In 2011, he relocated to Los Angeles, California, where he is currently based. An installation of Verlato’s paintings and sculptures were exhibited at the 2009 Venice Biennale in the Italian Pavilion. The artist’s forthcoming first monograph will be published by Gingko Press in 2012.