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Reality and Realism Artwork and Text by Anthony Lombardi Palidoro / Montevirginio / David Foster Wallace

August 2013

Vacation, finally ...

Friday 9 August 2013 The last lesson of the last

day of work before my holiday is finished. It’s Friday and tomorrow I plan to drive to nearby Montevirginio with my wife to stay in the country for 10 days. My only break from work hwas been on weekends, driving to a beach in nearby Palidoro. I’m reading a book by David Foster Wallace (Something Supposedly Fun That I’ll Never Do Again) that includes an essay about television that he wrote in the 90s. Now I’m not at all a television watcher and, living in a country outside of the US, I am excluded from his ‘aura’ of televisual references. However, I can follow his line

of thinking and understand the implication that TV has had on culture. One of the interesting things is how he develops the idea of the ‘constructed’ reality that is pre-

sented on TV. He claims that the average American watches 6 hours of TV a day and therefore substitutes a major part of their lives for this preferred and passive reality. Furthermore, since TV must cater to the average viewer, that viewer is studied by marketers and TV writers for their habits and choices in order for them to create the right content for viewing. Cinema is different than TV in that the ‘aura’ of art is still strongly attached to cinema. But the borders between TV, music video, cinema and advertising are becoming blurred especially when you consider how the technical production of each area has become similar.

I would say that the phenomenon of content preparation has been developed even further into the realm of cinema. By just considering the amount of movies that are produced

in one year, you can imagine the enormous effort by the producers to find the right new content to propose to the public.

Regarding the artistic side of cinema, I can say that there is probably much less catering done to a mass audience. I think that most film producers are quite happy to find a little

niche market that covers the costs of the film and provides an adequate profit.

within the costs of the expected box office forecast.

and prepared reality. While TV viewers might substitute a major part of their day to viewing, the ‘cinema / art’ viewers spend less time in front of the screen but eventually find themselves at dinner parties talking to others about films.

Look at Woody Allen. His films demonstrate how a market can provide enough profit for a new production almost every year. He only has to stay DAV I D

So maybe the people that consider themselves ‘art-goers’ when they see a film are only a part of a smaller and less guidable herd of TV viewer that seek the same kind of passive


David Foster Wallace (February 21, 1962 – September 12, 2008) was an award-winning American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California. Wallace is widely known for his 1996 novel Infinite Jest, which was cited as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005 by Time magazine.

Los Angeles Times book editor David Ulin called Wallace “one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years”. With his suicide, he left behind an unfinished novel, The Pale King, which was subsequently published in 2011, and in 2012 was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, which was not awarded that year.


rhenian Sea, to the south by the North Maccarese area and south-east by the Torrimpietra area and to the east by the area of Santa Maria di Galeria.

Palidoro is the forty-seventh zone of the Roman City area. Originally part of the municipality of Rome, Polidoro has been passed to the municipality of Fiumicino as a result of a re-organizationof the capital.

At the medieval ‘Torre di Palidoro’, on September 23, 1943, Deputy Brigadier Salvo D’Acquisto, in a heroic gesture, volunteered to be shot by the Germans to save 22 people who were to be executed in retaliation.

The area is bordered to the north by the municipalities of Ladispoli and Cerveteri, to the west by the Tyr-

The lively conversation and passionate debates are usually centered on the films being discussed. The preferred reality is decisively the story-line of the film instead of revealing the hard reality one’s personal life.

This ‘substitution’ has taken place in the visual arts as well. The value of colour and technique and expression in painting has been substituted for cerebral tickling and offthe-cuff humour in the form of visual one-liners. People no

longer want to spend any time contemplating a picture.

lished dissertation that analyzes deconstructivism (or poststructuralism) and the merging of philosophy and criticism applied to written text.

of high-brow literary criticism and philosophy using a lot of long words and densely written sentences that one has to read several times in order to understand or just lightly wafting over unfamiliar vocabulary.

I tried to understand the concept behind the responsibility of the ‘author’ in relationship to the written text. It seemed interesting to me because a lot of what I see in contemporary art leads me to question the maker’s responsibility.

It’s a short essay that goes into depth about the ins and outs

In another article called ‘Exaggerated’ that is re-published in this book, Foster Wallace writes about literary criticism. He basically reviews a pub-

Through the essay, I understood that the creator of the work, whether it be text (as discussed in the article) or a happening or installation in the visual arts, has a less important role than the viewer who has the onus of ‘responding’ to the work in the best way possible. Thus the viewer’s response, in terms of meaning attached to the work, is often more important that the creator’s purpose which could be shrouded and

The best way for art to be explained is through experience, which is the best way to explain anything. The more a person can open their mind to a work and allow the art to communicate on a person-to-person basis, the more that person is facilitated to help others understand their own experiences. There is something of an idea of truth in art. one human being and another, the whole question seems sort of arcane.” This, for me, is the bottom line to all philosophy when applied to the arts. Philosophy is already a great subject in itself. When philosophy has to be tied to another subject as a justification to analyse or in some way help to theorize that other subject, it becomes watery and loses its own seductive power.

vague through the actual creative process. What I liked about the essay was that, after spending a lot of brain neurons trying to tie together some kind of rational and logical reasoning behind all of the diatribe concerning theory, Wallace Foster writes, “For those of us civilians who know in our gut that writing is an act of communication between

According to Wikipedea, “Realism in the arts may be generally defined as the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificiality and avoiding artistic conventions, implausible, exotic and supernatural elements.” The key words here are ‘… represent subject matter truthfully”. In order to represent subject matter, one needs tech-

nique which is a learned and practiced skill involving some kind of material. In painting, this means being able to render the subject matter with paint.

The word ‘truthfully’ can have different levels of meaning the last and most honestly recognized is synonymous to ‘photographically’.

But I’m not interested so much in technical prowess or in photographic realism. What I am thinking about mostly is how what I choose to paint can inspire me to make a beautiful painting. In other words, what

are the main features, such as light, contrast, composition, depth, that are inherent in the scene that can be studied in my own application of paint on a surface. That’s it. In the past, I have thought about the place, the picturesque, the historical or non-


historical component and my own comfort when I chose a place to paint, but all of this is secondary to the initial impact that the scene has on my eye. This is just as true when I decide to paint from a photo. I’m always looking for the same eye-catching elements.


Montevirginio belongs to the municipality of Montevirginio Canale Monterano, in the province of Rome in the Lazio region.

La Piana (2,15 km) also belong to this municipality.

The village is 3,11 kilometers from the town of Canale Monterano. Bagni di Stigliano, Castel Donato, L ’Eramo and

The village of Montevirginio has 577 inhabitants.

Montevirginio rises to 427 meters above sea level.

As for the truthful part, there can be an entire gamut of interpretations about the depiction of truth in a painting. One considers the level of ‘identifiable’ elements which can be represented in such a way ranging from photorealism to just-recognizable abstractionism. The artist’s style does not

drove away as quickly as I could. Being the summer, my car windows were down. Even though I accelerated as much as I could down the country lane, I couldn’t drive the swarm of flies away. The hovered indifferently around the door window of my side of the car as if the movement of the car going 40 to 50 kilometers per hour didn’t effect them the least. embody an idea of ‘truth’ as much as the result of other elements does. Truthful to me is truthful to the inspiration to the subject matter in any way that can be perceived by any observer. The painting may certainly depend totally on the inspiration which involves the relationship between artist and subject matter whether it be a picture or a landscape or memory. The process from inspiration, brought forth from the subject matter by the artist, is what I considered to be ‘truthful’ or not. In the countryside, one of the problems in painting outdoors is dealing with the car. Narrow roads through wooded areas and non, leave little room to park. Many beautiful and inspiring places have to be passed by because there is just no room to park let alone set

up and paint. In order to find a potential place, I often spend up to an hour driving around scouting out an area. Once, I parked next to an open field with animals; sheep I think, but it doesn’t matter. I got out of the car and was hardly 50 metres from my car when I started to notice a swarm of flies buzzing around me. I got back to the car and

When I arrived to a paved road, I drove as fast as I could in order to loose them only to find that, upon stopping at a service station, the swarm was no longer around the door window of the car but had accumulated in the back part of the car. They wouldn’t leave even if I opened the back door. I ignored them until I parked the car and they just died back there after a couple of days.

“I am now 33 years old, and it feels like much time has passed and is passing faster and faster every day. Day to day I have to make all sorts of choices about what is good and important and fun, and then I have to live with the forfeiture of all the other options those choices foreclose. And I’m starting to montevirginio hermitage

see how as time gains momentum my choices will narrow and their foreclosures multiply exponentially until I arrive at some point on some branch of all life’s sumptuous branching complexity at which I am finally locked in and stuck on one path and time speeds me through stages of stasis and

atrophy and decay until I go down for the third time, all struggle for naught, drowned by time. It is dreadful. But since it’s my own choices that’ll lock me in, it seems unavoidable - if I want to be any kind of grownup, I have to make choices and regret foreclosures and try to live with them.”

In 1668 the Orsini family commissioned construction of this grandiose rectangular plan building, enclosing a large cloister in the typical style of the Carthusian hermitages, in the green paradise of the Monte Sassano slopes where the only sounds are the whispers of nature.

first floor. The short north side is occupied by the church, which is still in good condition thanks to various restoration efforts over the centuries. Outstanding among the many fine artworks at the Eremo di Montevirginio are two canvases in the Flemish style, attributed to Fra’ Lucas: the altarpiece depicting the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple and a Mary with Saints.

The monks’ cells, guest rooms, chapter hall, and the service rooms are all on the

-David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again According to David Foster Wallace, the race against time is worsened by the limiting foreclosures that happen naturally in life. He has a point. On the other hand, we can fully accept what reality deals us through our choices precisely because they are ours. Destiny notwithstanding, there is no one to blame but ourselves. I don’t think that it’s of much use to discuss the idea of destiny within a context of reality. It might get a bit fuzzy to try to define exactly how destiny fits into something that should

be as tangible and concrete as reality. What I really wanted to follow was the idea of responsibility and reality. Something that becomes clear from the quote is how one

arrives at some point on some branch of which becomes the ONE path to follow to the end. In a way, Foster Wallace is expressing how the choices become more difficult as time goes on. How the foreclosures

of other not-chosen options become lost while living with both the foreclosures and the choices becomes reality. Illusion fades away and what is left is hard, concrete reality. Regarding painting, for me

this concrete reality has become a way of looking with my eyes and feeling with my heart. The gaze is outward: my perception should be engaged and stimulated. Only then, do I feel that something returns to me. The return is

All watercolours are 26 x 18 cm. The sketches are done in ink and are pages from a sketchbook 26 x 18. The paintings are oil on canvas and are 35 x 20 cm. The work is from August 2013.

the sensation that my hands are coordinated with my heart in creating something that others can participate in as well. The swarm of flies that are capable of hovering around a moving car finally find rest in the back of a closed car.

Anthony Lombardi

Reality and Realism  

Artwork and text by Anthony Lombardi done in Polidoro and Montevirginio, Italy while reading and thinking about David Foster Wallace

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