Monday, October 09, 2006

Art Space Talk: Ralph Turturro

I recently interviewed artist Ralph Turturro. I found Mr. Turturro's abstract paintings to be very expressive in nature. He appears to make marks upon the canvas freely. Such precision reveals the experience and seriousness he has for working in this style of painting.

His expressive brushwork and use of color have much to reveal to the trained eye. In his paintings I observe a form of 'controlled chaos' that is very alluring. Especially when one places it within the emotional context of society.
Great joy and struggle can be discovered in Mr. Turturro's paintings. In my opinion, one can find great social insight after looking beyond the surface of his paintings. The paintings seem to capture the basics of sadness, happiness, regret, acceptance...etc...

In his work I can see Jackson Pollock, Willem de Koonig, and Cy Twombly staring back at me.

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "I believe it was always present in me and I look back at my life often enough to see that it has been a series of stages of different kinds of sleep walking. I wake from each one a little more aware but it is not until the next time I wake that I realize I had been sleeping up till that point. So I think it might have been the moment after the sleepwalk of college when I had to face the reality of a work a day world that I realized that even though I would have to plunge into this world it would only be to survive and pay the piper but that there was nothing else I could be other than an artist in this life."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "Society at large is in there. Yes. My work is my response to the inside and out of my experiences, thoughts, ideas, feelings as i move through this life and time. If you are perceptive you can find society in there. But I do not use any specific or literal societal references except some of my titles. My Tiltes are meant to be poetic. have a cadence, rhythm, sound that stops you, makes you think. They are most often lose associations with the the visuals of the painting and the current book I am reading or music or news program I am listening to. In this way society is always somewhere in my work. The first 4 paintings I painted after 9/11 were titled - 'Zero Gravity' - 'Planes' - 'Objects of Mass' and 'Fall'....You tell me.. might society be in there?"

Q. What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you?

A. "Everyone influences me. My kids, my students, the man on the street that is kind, that is mean. It all goes into the soup, into the process of forgetting everything when you begin and trusting that all that is real and true will be discovered as you work...if you work...

New York school - Abstract _expression - Dada - Cubism - Surealism....Theories of Relativity...are schools of thinking that influence me. Michelangelo, Caravaggio, van Gogh, Matisse, Kandinsky, Pollack, de Kooning, Rothko, Tapies, Twombly, Basquiat, Walker, kiefer...all visual influences... "

Q. Tell me a little about your background. Are your past experiences reflected in the work you do today? If so, how?

A. "I was born in New York, 49years ago, my two earliest memories are - first at 2 yrs. of age; I would pull all the detergents out from under the kitchen sink and make sculptured pies on the living room floor - the second is of a 4 yr. old boy, standing alone in a long empty driveway, watching cats walk in and out of the backyard; the colors were: green - gray, warm black and a very intense Dutch Yellow Light.

I come from a family of artists. My Grandfather painted their living room with murals of Italy. My Uncle Domenick was a painter and a big influence to me. My cousin Joe drives a truck by day and paints at night. My father and uncles are master carpenters. That love Opera and movies. The rest of my family that aren't actors never talk to each other because of one emotional thing or another. Yes My family and past experiences are in there too...just as is everything conscious and unconscious that make up the present day me."

Q. What are you thinking when you create?

A. "The objectives in my work are always the same: to recognize the things that continue to evolve and thrill me in this life such as: balance and imbalance, persisting ambiguities, understatement, open spaces, unresolved endings, continuous questioning, the truths in contradiction, palimpsests, illegible markings, graffiti, old, re-varnished wooden school desks, active, rusting surfaces, worn away names/dates on grave stones, old ships, walls, etc.; to harness these things in the energy of the paint and to trust then that the work expresses who I am and where I am at present."

Q. What is your artistic process?

A. "Painting is something that continues to fill me with wonder and awe. It is a process not unlike like being an archeologist discovering found objects that send you reeling back and forth through time. Everyday it brings you closer to your mortality; demands that you face yourself for better or for worse; teaches you to accept and cherish loss as an indelible element of time; the unmitigated truth of it as well as its horror and its beauty."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art?

A. "I have several degrees. University of Wisconsin at Madison - on Football scholarship ( only badger that was an Art major) did my Masters at Pratt in Brooklyn and attended Post Graduate classes for Teaching degree at Queens and Brooklyn College respectively. I have been painting for 30 years."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?

Q. Why do you create art?

A. "Because it is there waiting for me."

Q. Do you have an upcoming exhibit? If so, where and when?


Less SaidDiscovering the Power of Visual Writing and Texture


GALLERY HOURSM - SAT. 9AM - 8PMFor Further Info - rtmac57123@yahoo.com607-423-3476 or fran@metropolitan.edu212-343-1234 x - 2209"
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Ralph Turturro. To find Mr. Turturro's art simply type RTMAC below 'Find by Login Name or Name' on and click 'FIND'.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your interview Ralph.Thanks for the inspiration:)

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of work you see a lot in every country. it doesn't tell me anything about society. it is more a play with colour and a bit of form.

Balhatain said...


I think it all depends on how you view such works. You say,"This is the kind of work you see a lot in every country.". well... could that not mean something unto itself?

Perhaps images like this reveal the collected confusion of many people from many walks of life. In a sense, perhaps work like this walk over the lines that define one culture from the next.

Thus, paintings like this would be the purest 'vision' of our collective fears and joys. A map showing our 'shared location' on this planet.

If this work is common in many countries... maybe that is a sign that we, humans, are not all that different. That is a message that I like.

RTMac said...

thanx the way you defended me there...

also I think it's very close to my world view...your words on a kind of 'Pangea' view of cultures; we are all part of something larger...

good though to have descent...opens up the dialogue...

so thanx 2nd anonymous for your take...

hope to hear more...

from RT

Anonymous said...

It is evident that Mr. Turturro is passionate about his art. From juxtaposing his interview with his works, I get the feeling that he'd rather be "arting" for life as opposed to living in order to create art; and that art is not so much a medium as a lifestyle. I'd like to know more...

RTMac said...


not sure what you are getting at...what exactly does this mean ...

"I get the feeling that he'd rather be "arting" for life as opposed to living in order to create art; and that art is not so much a medium as a lifestyle."

love to comment but it is not clear to me what you are saying...

format of interview was designed by interviewer...and what does the format of the interview have to do with...the integrity of the work and or the words of tyhe interview????

would love to talk further but need some clarification...

thank you


Anonymous said...

I've checked out art in lots of countries and I sure haven't seen any work that has the same type of dynamic energy, flow, movement, color rythmn as Ralph's paintings. I think if you really take the time to look at his paintings, you can see that he has created a very strong, deep and unique space for the viewer to see themselves and the world in a totally different way.

Anonymous said...

He was my middle school art teacher coolest guy in the world he used to play the song "you can't always get what you want" now that i'm old enough to appreciate his art its kinda cool. and it reminds me of greg euclide.