The surreal and captivating paintings by Sicilian artist, TOTO investigate the possibilities that lie in the use of colors to convey visceral emotions. Using only shades of blue and white, she takes her viewers through a dream-like journey. “I create powerful figures of the unconscious in a timeless dimension,” she says.
Inspired by the ocean and its vastness, TOTO creates works that are both realistic and symbolic. “The use of monochrome, crossed by beams of white light which mark and emphasize the figures, is a clear symbolism of a spiritual approach to reality,” she explains.
Blue is obviously the unifying motif in your work. Can you talk about what the color blue means to you? How long have you been painting in monochrome?
Blue is a means of exercising a direct influence on our souls. It is the most important color in the visual perception of sensations, of contemplation, silence, the universe, and the sea. It is the color of my visions, where sometimes things seem to be but in reality they are not. I have been using this color for about ten years but I cannot exclude that this could change one day.
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Another motif commonly present in your work is the ocean. What is the symbolism behind it?
I was born in a beautiful place, Milazzo [Italy], where the sun rises and sets on the sea. The sea for me is the symbol of the Journey, the place of freedom and sorrow…life and death.
Could you tell us a little bit about your process?
When I am in front of a white canvas, I always feel disoriented. I start with the first brush stroke and then, one stroke after the other I feel the energy starting to flow and ideas become clearer and clearer. It is almost always that the subject chooses me, not the other way round. Whether it’s a landscape or a person, my choice derives from an inner request that is turned into a metaphor on the canvas. The creative process is very quick. Reality is observed through our imagination, therefore only the details that my memory recalls exist on the canvas. The viewer’s eye will complete the image. This is the big mystery and the magnificence of art.
Do you hope for your viewers to find any specific meanings or messages in your work or would you rather it be left up to interpretation?
I like to answer this question by saying – Find your own message, draw your own conclusions.
Why is portraying the subconscious so important?
I believe we all have our own message to the world. For me, painting is a vehicle between my inner world and reality. The challenge is to provoke those looking at my paintings. If my paintings provoke you, it means that I have obliged you to experience something, to think, and to make a choice.
Do you have a favorite piece in your collection? Why is it your favorite?
Every painting comes out from an inner journey, never by chance! There is always a favorite one…as for everything else. The painting that I prefer is “Traversata” because it represents the loneliness that every human being is faced with when confronted with adversity.
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