Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mary Livoni’s charcoal drawings: A silent game of light and dark

I have seen many versions of the legendary playwright Samuel Beckett’s play ‘Waiting for Godot’, in which two hopeful needy men are waiting endlessly for some unknown, unseen, superman like Mr. Godot to change their fate. The reason here to remember ‘Godot’ is, in the context of art very often I see that many artists keep waiting (which reflects in the tentativeness of their creations) for miracles in their art. They miss simple things or ignore daily life existence in the quest for ‘something beyond’. And here when I see artists like Mary Livoni, I feel amazed to see the artistic confidence they carry in their art works. The notion of ‘completion’ never gets hampered by the simplicity of the subject matter or the medium of paint. They do not wait for miracles, but they create something which is more genuine than a miracle.

Living in Chicago, Mary Livoni’s suburban architectural charcoal drawings prominently capture various views of old iron bridges that cross the river in her city. Mary’s use of charcoal as a medium and her metallic-structural subjects join together and offer one pure art experience. 
For her, charcoal is not just a preliminary drawing tool, but she uses it to create masses, and forms, suggesting smoke and cloud vapors, painstakingly smearing it to achieve desired mood. Earlier she had her share of conventional painting education and art exercises as an art school student but she was always attracted to light and dark.  Black and white photography was her starting point as a younger artist and she felt it fascinating to experience how the ordinary world is transformed when translated into black and white. She feels that, a world reduced into this high contrast palette is also suggestive of other elemental ideas and narratives. In the process of forming her own artistic dialect, three artists have influenced her very strongly. Giorgio Chirico’s paintings, Francis Ford Coppola’s movie “Rumble Fish” where a small industrial American city was transformed into a black and white world of intense beauty, and Frank Stella’s monumental sculpture “The Town Ho’s Story” which is created especially for the city of Chicago.

In future she wants to create larger works and is also planning to work on murals without compromising the ‘charcoal and paper’ feel of her work. For some time she is also planning to work on series of illustrations based on Marilynn Robinson’s novel ‘Housekeeping’. It is going to be interesting to witness her artistic journey!

Mary Livoni’s works are simple to perceive and rich in the experience. I loved them! Visit her website to learn more. 

My heartfelt thanks to Mary for her patience with my long e-mails :) and also for sharing pictures with the blog. 


Anonymous said...

Bravo Debu, superbe introduction et magnifique critique pour une sympathique artiste talentueuse; à bientôt

Debu Barve said...

Dear Thig, thank you! Yes, she is very talented artist.

david weir art said...

Hi Debu,very good post , love work in charcoal.

Debu Barve said...

Dear David,
Thank you. Yes she handles the charcoal medium very nicely!

Prashant Kulkarni said...

It is nice to see such a wonderful work in charcoal...and of course your art critique skills.

Debu Barve said...

Dear PK, thanks!

Narayan Pillai said...

Great Post Debu...she does create magic with her charcoal works.

Debu Barve said...

Dear Narayan,
Yes, Mary is a fantastic artist.

Monika - Twoja Asystentka said...

I love charcoal drawings, they are so subtle but in the same time they can have some kind of strenght.
Great blog you have!

Thank you for visiting mine
Monika from

Debu Barve said...

Hi Monika,
Thanks for your comments!

Andrew Graeme Gould said...

Beautifully striking works.

Debu Barve said...

Hi Andrew,
Yes, absolutely!

Anonymous said...

haunting and beautiful charcoal work by ms. livoni, wonderful play of shadow and light. insightful commentary. really enjoy your blog. thanks.

Debu Barve said...

Thanks for your comment!

Stephanie Clayton said...

Great post! Talented artist. Wonderful compositions, especially the first drawing.

Debu Barve said...

Dear Stephanie,
Thanks for your comments!

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