If this week’s cover by Richard Denisiewicz reminds you of some painting from the past, you’re on the right track. We’re thinking that the artist was certainly influenced by Vermeer, an observation Denisiewicz readily admits. Consider their use of light and shadow and the composition where shapes are gathered (or “massed”) together for maximum effect. The cover image draws you in, as do many Vermeer landscapes and portraits. Denisiewicz’s portraits (especially the one with two women in party clothes) are also intriguing, and like Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” evoke a sense of mystery.
A comparison with Vermeer is certainly one that Denisiewicz would deny, no doubt. From all appearances, he’s a modest man who says he has much more to learn. From the looks of it, however, he has already learned a lot, starting from an early age when he knew his destiny was to become an artist.
You have lived in New York since the early 1980s, first as a student and then as a full-time artist. How did you get here in the first place?
After high school, I came to New York to get a B.A. in art from The School of Visual Arts. I fell in love with the city since day one. I first shared an apartment with my brother who wanted to be an actor.
I have a feeling you lived in many different neighborhoods when you moved here.
Yes, We first lived in the Village, on the top floor of a brownstone. It was like a fantasy. But the building was sold. I’ve lived in Brooklyn, too, and now have an apartment and studio on the Upper West Side. I just like to stay in my studio and paint. (My brother has long since moved. He’s in Southampton now.)
Would you like to live someplace else besides New York?
It’s changed here. It’s like a big corporate mall, and it’s so hot in the summer. It used to be more “funky.” But Manhattan is the place for me. I do like the Southwest and the greenery in Vermont, however.
You developed a love of art long before you came to New York. Who was responsible
I grew up in Hartford, Connecticut, and watched my older sister doing art, making posters and various things. She took me to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and showed me Wyeth’s “Christina’s World.” She enrolled me in art classes when I was six years old. The first time I smelled the linseed oil, I knew this was what I wanted to do, be an artist. She really pushed me.
How about your parents. Did they
They weren’t negative, but told me to get a good job, work hard. They were hoping I’d become a fireman. My father has passed away. My mother is cool with my being an artist now. She has a house full of my paintings.
How did you get inspired by fruit, which is the subject of your still lifes?
I don’t know for sure. We had a garden when I was growing up. We were also a food-friendly family, I can remember steam coming from the pots and pans in the kitchen.
What’s your next challenge in art?
To get out there and paint landscapes outside. I’m not looking forward to it although a lot of my friends paint in the winter, for example. I wish I had a normal job and paint what I want for family and friends. But to make a living, you have to paint full-time. That’s good, too. It makes you grow.
Works by Richard Denisiewicz can be seen at Chrysalis Gallery in Southampton (2 Main Street). Call 631-287-1883. The artist’s website is richdenisiewiczfineart.com.