Carol Fortunato’s oil paintings are reminiscent of works by 17th century Dutch masters. Like the Baroque artists, Fortunato employs chiaroscuro (an application of intense light and dark) to add drama to her still lifes of flowers, fruits and vegetables. Her muted tones and dark palette contrast with the bright light sources that she arranges, and lends an air of mystery to her paintings. Dutch artists of the baroque period often experimented with vanitas painting. These still lives were quiet reflections on mortality. Food and flowers were used as metaphors for the fragility of life. Fortunato’s work reflects this interest in evolution, “Perhaps I focus on most things edible because at the peak of their ripeness, their fullness and vibrancy is made all the more precious by their transience—whether it’s because they are about to wither or to be eaten.”
Young White Peonies” by Carol Fortunato
A lush bouquet of white flowers blossoms out of a clear glass vase in “Young White Peonies.” Fortunato depicts the flowers at different stages in their lifecycle. The white peony in the left is in full bloom. Its petals open up, embracing sunlight and perhaps emitting a light fragrance into the air. To its right, we see another blossom lying at the base of the vase; petals strewn about in a mark of decay. These memento mori serve as reminders of the beauty of life. Fortunato’s renditions of vanitas painting are beautiful, elegant and even joyous celebrations of the value of life.
Carol Fortunato graduated with a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. It was during her post-graduate training with the Art Students League under David Leffel and Greg Kreutz that she developed her interest in chiaroscuro painting, which is so dominant in her work today.
To view more original oil paintings by Carol Fortunato please visit us at The Christina Gallery on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, or here on our website.