Friday, January 18, 2013

Full Moon, Winter Crossing by Peter Fiore

It’s always a pleasure for us to cover contemporary artists here at The Jade Sphinx, and when coming across the fine work by artist Peter Fiore (born 1955), I wanted to take a closer look at one of my favorite paintings, Full Moon, Winter Crossing.

Fiore is predominantly a landscape painter; he has won a number of awards, including first place for landscape in the Art Renewal Center’s Annual Salon, along with receiving the Grand Prize in the America China Oil Painters Artist League (ACOPAL).
Fiore was born in Teaneck, NJ, and studied at Pratt Institute and later at the Art Students League in New York.  He is also a professional illustrator, collaborating on thousands of projects while also working on the faculties of Pratt, Syracuse University and the School of Visual Arts.  He lives with his wife, the sculptor Barbara Fiore, alongside the Delaware River in northeastern Pennsylvania.  Readers are encouraged to look at his Web site at:

Many of Fiore’s paintings are wintry landscapes.  As your correspondent considers this the most beautiful time of year – and thinks Pennsylvania among the most beautiful of places in the United States – I wanted to show you Full Moon, Winter Crossing, painted on linen and about 48x60 in diameter.  As Fiore writes on his Web site: I am especially drawn to the winter landscape. It is a time when the earth loses its leafy covering and reveals it's true self. Covered in snow, the world reflects light and creates a spectrum of colors that are both dramatic and beautiful.

Well… where to start on this wonderful picture?  First, I am struck by the stark beauty of the winter landscape.  The dead trees stand silent sentinel at the riverside, and bits of withered vegetation struggle to peek through the snow.  A small house is visible in the distance, but there are no lights in the window to connote a sense of hearth; there’s no fireside warmth on this night.

For Fiore, the river is a living thing.  It captures the moonlight and reflects it back, reshaped on the currents of water.  The shadows of the bridge create rich shadows which shimmy, and the water grows more darkly blue as the eye travels left, away from the moonlight.  And this is not the placid water of a summer day – this water flows.

Another striking thing about the picture is the quality of light.  Look at how Fiore plays the moonlight on the bridge top, illuminating the steel girders with yellow highlights.  More interesting, look at how he plays the light on the pier supporting the bridge or on the snow in the foreground:  shadows are not black (or brown washes), but nighttime blue in the cold evening light.  Even the moonlight that catches the rippling water has a quality of coldness that perfectly captures the season.

Despite the empty house and cool colors, there is still an element in the picture that is welcoming and beautiful.  This is not winter desolation, but, rather, winter in all of its cool, clear, crystalline beauty. 

One last thing – sometimes the power of a painter in not in the finished picture, but in the sensory associations it suggests.  Though there is nothing at all overt in the picture, what I sense looking at Full Moon, Winter Crossing is not the cold, nor the damp of the water, but a sense of quiet – the special muffled quality to the air that only a snowy winter day offers.  It is, like many interesting pictures, powerful in its suggestions as well as its representations.

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