From a Review of “After ‘The Battle of San Romano,’ ”
by Niccolo Mauruzi da Tolentino (5 1/2'’ high x 8 1/2” wide)
Employing nine colors, predominantly white, yellow, green and black, all of which are oils applied through a medium to create a matte finish, this hyper-realistic painting is distinguished by its startling perspective. The foreground depicts the end of a man’s nose and the rims and bifocal lenses of his glasses.
In front of this first plane and slightly to the left is a white wicker hamper with several magazines arrayed on its lid. Directly behind and above the hamper, foreshortened, sits the backdrop, a yellow wall. On the lower part of the wall just above the hamper is a towel rack with a large, dark-green towel folded vertically in half. Above it, and close to the top of the painting, is a tiny, black-framed rectangular black-and-white ink drawing of a reclining nude which, in abstract, evokes the supremely un-abstract and un-mythologized “Nude Maja” of Goya. Above the ink drawing is a final slice of yellow wall.
Appositely, the title of this painting quotes the Uccello masterpiece known for having radically advanced the use of linear perspective in early Renaissance Italian art. The present artist even uses the pseudonym, “Nicolo Mauruzi da Tolentino,” which I take to be a jest. Since Uccello depicts Mauruzi unseating his opponent, the present, pseudonymous artist may, himself, be vaingloriously claiming to unseat Uccello by using the same linear perspective to depict multiple planes with a total depth of three feet or less, and with the first of these planes representing the artist’s own nose and glasses. The additional fact that the artist appears to be seated on the toilet, a most unheroic “stance,” may be said to amplify the joke. In a sense, then, in two jumps, this very small painting carries the viewer back across almost six centuries of art history. Talk about foreshortening!
Ron Singer 's prose has appeared in publications including The Avatar Review, big bridge, The Brooklyn Rail, Defenestration, diagram, Drunken Boat, elimae, Ellipses, ghoti, Mad Hatters’ Review, Oregon Literary Review, Paper Street, Sleet, SN Review, Third Wednesday*, Willow Review, and Word Riot. Singer has also published a chapbook, A Voice for My Grandmother (Ten Penny Players/bardpress, 2nd ed, 2008); and an e-book of long stories, The Second Kingdom (Cantarabooks, 2009). During 2010-2011, he has made three protracted visits to Africa to interview pro-democracy activists for a book, Uhuru Revisited (Africa World Press/Red Sea Press). * The editors of Third Wednesday have nominated Singer’s story, “On Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘One Art,’ “ for a Puschcart Prize.
© Copyright Ron Singer 2012