The works of Paul McCrone, a Scranton artist who passed away in 2011, will be featured at the AFA Gallery during the month of February. The opening will take place on First Friday, February 3, from 6 to 8 PM.
Paul McCrone was a visual artist, painter, and sculptor. His work explores figurative and abstract themes in a variety of media, both traditional and unconventional, including oil, acrylic, charcoal, gouache, tar, plaster, and mixed media, as well as sculptures of clay, plaster, and marble. He studied fine arts at The Art Students League of New York. He was a freelance artist and had his work shown in New York City, Brooklyn, Binghamton, and Scranton.
Paul issued an Artist’s Statement describing his work in 2009. At that time he said the following:
“The exploration of forms, figures, and their transformation has been a fundamental basis for my visual art, which is primarily comprised of paintings and drawings in a variety of media, both traditional and unconventional, including oil, acrylic, charcoal, gouache, mixed media, tar, plaster, tile adhesive and grout, as well as sculptures of clay, plaster, and marble. A combination of figurative and abstract subject matter informs my art. My current body of work explores the human figure, with a focus on the torso, a subject that grew out of another previous theme in my work exploring figurative iconic images.
Originally trained in realism as a student at The Art Students League of New York, I have continually expanded and developed my art from this strong foundation.
Initially, I focused on the human figure from my studio training, and feel that others can relate easily to this realistic style. More recently, my figurative studies have evolved as I have transformed my understanding of forms and figures by blurring their boundaries and have discovered their abstract, essential core through reductionist methods. The result is a transformative view of reality. Through exploration of form to identify its essence, I have learned to trust my subconscious to manifest a form’s true meaning. Truth cannot be discerned through form alone. Often it resides in grey areas, between the boundaries. Although it sounds paradoxical, I can best grasp this truth by not recreating an exact copy, but by exploring these abstracted images.
The past few years have been especially crucial as I have challenged myself to not depend on traditional artist’s paints and materials. Instead, I have been incorporating building supplies and materials, such as tar, plaster, and grout into my paintings and drawings. As unconventional as these items may appear, I have been able to capture a highly textured, sculptured effect and rough surface. The nature of these materials represents the coarse, rough subject matter and allows me to evoke a distorted and disjointed reality, a collapse of boundaries, and a journey that brings me closer to the truth. The use of these common materials in a different context has created new vehicles for expression and for portraying a particular mood and, by their very nature, permitted me to manipulate their substance.
Thankfully, my classical training has prepared me to incorporate these materials through smearing, blending, and layering of colors and mixed media in order to achieve the desired effect of distortion in my work. The use of this method, along with the earthly hues, exhibits a natural randomness and illustrates the reality permeating through our thoughts and perceptions.
My exploration of figures and forms inspired a body of work whose subject was the Crucifixion, which has always been a predominant theme in my art throughout the years. From my body of work, the trauma of agony manifests itself repeatedly through the image of the Crucifixion. Earlier in my career, I depicted a realistic Crucifixion, the corporal pain evident in the face and wounds. As I returned to this subject, I found myself focusing more on the body, specifically the torso. What started as a literal depiction of the figure has become twisted, abnormal, and unearthly. Unsatisfied by the limitations of paint, I also explore this theme of suffering through marble, clay, and plaster sculptures. The human figure, in many of my paintings and sculptures, has been contorted from a recognizable shape to an emotive unraveling of its former structure. This dissolution of boundaries, this evaporation of form, has allowed me to far better express a body that has been reduced, a figure that has been half finished.
My overall motive is to challenge traditional boundaries and explore more emotive and personal subject matter using forms and figures, which is itself a transformative process. I tend to describe my paintings as free-form figure painting expressing movement, while at the same time suggesting gestural inhibition. Much of my work portrays a single figure done in a manner of semi-realism with abstract tendencies. I will admit that my perceptions are somewhat dark and mysterious.
I subscribe to the practice of transforming raw material — taking a concept and allowing it to manifest itself in concrete form. I try to translate spontaneity throughout each work, while retaining a certain structural integrity. I believe that I try to reconcile the subjective and objective when executing a piece, although I don’t think this can be wholly resolved. I come from a point of view that portrays concepts of duality, ambiguity, and principles of negation. I believe inherent limitations are responsible for construction of style.
My work is influenced by an array of experiences, both positive and negative. Self-reflection also plays a vital role. I use technique as a basis, but tend to rely more on mood and feeling. I try to remain versatile and experimental when executing a piece.”