While Nick Cordone’s title for this week’s cover, “Live Free or Die,” suggests a Bruce Willis movie (an idea that the artist takes in good stride), there’s much more to the image than initially strikes our eye. This particular painting (part of a series called “Do Animals Day Dream?”) conveys the search and need for freedom. The fact that the subjects are fish enhances Cordone’s message: animals reflect what we as humans deal with every day.
Looking at Cordone’s diverse work on his website, we see potent examples of this series, where roosters, pigs and dogs represent personification of human behavior.
The style is a combination of photorealism and surrealism evoking exaggeration in settings that seem authentic. Cordone has other series as well, including beach scenes where “cloud sculptures” and “sky formations” create fantasy, rather than surrealism.
While Cordone may have created various styles and subject matter through the years, his sense of composition and color are consistent.
The idea of freedom, which you suggest in this cover, makes me think that you are a political artist.
My art is not political. I don’t care for politics, and I am not affiliated with a political party. I got turned off to politics when I was president of my college class.
Maybe everything you experience becomes a reflection. How does that idea effect how you create art?
Everything I do in life—conversations, experiences, politics—I use to get a concept. I store these things away and then I can pick and choose from what I have put in my “file” when I need to. It’s called “subliminal seduction.”
I can’t help but imagine that you have lots of animals or at least a favorite dog that has inspired you for your paintings.
I had many dogs, but I don’t now. I am close with animals that belong to my friends and neighbors. I see how my friends act with their animals.
Your images are authentic for sure.
My subjects are real animals, and I use real local buildings as backgrounds.
Your subjects are varied, I noticed.
I have been all over the place. From landscapes to allegories. In this series, “Do Animals Day Dream?” I have put aspects together, combining the animals and allegories in landscape.
I know you taught art for 34 years on Long Island, and you would come home and do your art after school. How did you stay recharged?
I would go to SoHo and Chelsea on the weekends to keep up-to-date. I saw photorealism develop there. My own work reflects photorealism in SoHo and the landscape artists of Long Island.
How about particular artists you were influenced by?
Magritte for his surrealism, Donald Roller Wilson and Gregory Gillespie for his unique technique and thinking out of the box.
I bet you miss teaching art. What did you advise your students?
I encouraged them to follow their own direction, not to follow what I did. I told them they were a family of friends in school, that they may not find this again. I told them they could put a body of work together. We used to get together for barbeques at my house after graduation, and they would bring their art.
That’s really different. Most teachers don’t do that.
It works for me.
Nick Cordone’s work can be seen at Fitzgerald Gallery in Westhampton Beach, 48 Main Street, 631-288-6419.The artist will be having an exhibit at Ripe Art Gallery, 67 Broadway, Greenlawn, starting May 11, 631-239-1805. nickcordone.com