The Painted Drawings of Tony Calzetta

Tony Calzetta’s art exists between symbolism and story, straddling narrative and figure. His pieces are often large in scale, confronting the viewer and are a contemporary interpretation of how a “painting will react to you if you react to it. You get from it what you bring to it. It will meet you half way but no further. It is alive if you are. It represents something and so do you.” (Ad Reinhardt).

Often his works on canvas and paper have an iconic quality, suggesting either a glimpse into an ongoing “scene” (like a frame from a multi panel graphic or cartoon), or imply a rendering, in paint or charcoal (a very direct tool in the hand of the artist) of a cinematic still.

The large-scale nature of Calzetta’s “painted drawings” is frequently challenged by humourously irreverent titles. Again, there’s an allusion to a larger story, but we’re only given a hint.

Two significant recent exhibitions of his work have been Fabulous Fictions and Peculiar Practices (2017, at the GPAG, in Grimsby, ON, CA) and Imago mundi (also 2017, at the Palazzo Loredan, Venice, Italy, curated by Francesca Valente). Calzetta has only produced several artists books / livres d’artiste, sometimes in collaboration (How God Talks in His Sleep and Other Fabulous Fictions, 2009), sometimes as solo projects (War Stories for Children and Art Stories for Adults, 1999).

Calzetta graduated with an MFA from York University in 1977. He’s been exhibiting for nearly four decades, primarily out of Toronto (Pollock Gallery, Mira Godard, Fran Hill Fine Art Gallery and more recently De Luca Fine Art) but also national and international spaces. His art resides in numerous private compendiums, as well as notable public galleries and corporate collections in Canada and abroad. These include Canadian External affairs (Ottawa), Canada Council Art bank, National Library (Ottawa), Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto) and Reinsurance Group of America (London, UK).

Having recently relocated to Niagara, Calzetta, along with his partner (multi disciplinary artist Gabrielle de Montmollin) have collaborated in establishing AIH STUDIOS, a multipurpose site combining an exhibition, production and living space.

Selected works in a variety of media, and more information on Calzetta’s art, can be seen at the extensive online portfolio here.

About Bart Gazzola

Bart Gazzola has published with Canadian Art, Galleries West, FUSE, Hamilton Arts & Letters, BlackFlash, ArtSeen, ti<, Long Exposure and Magenta. Past curatorial projects include REGION (Contemporary Saskatchewan Painting) and Personal Geographies (an overview of The Photographers Gallery collection). Gazzola was Editorial Chair of BlackFlash Magazine (3 years), and was the visual arts critic for Planet S Magazine. He held the latter role for more than a decade, publishing reviews about Saskatoon visual arts and the larger community twice monthly. He's a frequent contributor to The SoundSTC and is the facilitator of the 5 x 2 Image Makers Conversations, through Rodman Hall Art Centre.
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