Ronnie Genotti: Tangled Tonality and the Complex Lines in His Art

Embracing color, gesture, and line, the multimedia artist employs an assortment of materials, including oil, acrylic, pastel, charcoal, and photography to create emotional landscapes.

by Heather Zises

Contemporary Abstract Expressionist Ronnie Genotti delivers passionate canvases that engage the viewer. Embracing color, gesture and line, the multimedia artist employs an assortment of materials, including oil, acrylic, pastel, charcoal, and photography to create emotional landscapes. Exploring themes of religion, sexuality, bullying and AIDS, Genotti renders compositions that take on new resonance and reflect upon our changing world in a place of political and social debate. “I am a queer artist with a queer artist’s experiences and perspective. A lot of my work is developed from that framework… I hope what I’m transmitting is universal enough that the viewer finds their own meaning and feeling in my work unclouded by my personal narrative,” shares Genotti.

Ronnie Genotti studio
Ronnie Genotti in his studio

The artist’s technical process is as important to him as the resulting narrative, “I’m particularly fascinated to see how, or if, I can achieve a gestalt in the piece given that I’m focusing so intently on the inputs: the media, the substrate, and the interaction between the two. Such a duality is an endless source of fascination.” Genotti began his practice by focusing solely on representational art. His work evolved over time and pivoted toward abstraction, gently dissolving into a new realm. It was within these less-disciplined structures that the artist found his stride. He redefined his use of white space on the canvas with signature sweeps of color, energetic lines, and coils of paint, all of which serve as crucial anchors within each work.

Through looser configurations, the artist captures raw expressions of what he has seen and felt throughout his life and career. In particular, he focuses upon specific memories that haunt, lurk, and skulk in the periphery of the collective imagination, not unlike “stones in the shoes of our subconscious,” Genotti states. “These are the ones that we need to pluck and pin them like butterflies to a board so that we can examine them on our terms, not theirs. There is a universality in such a practice, and I’m convinced that a kind of healing can be triggered when I show you mine and you show me yours.”

Genotti’s intention for his work is not so much for the viewer to understand the references behind a particular piece, but more for them to connect with its nuanced sensibilities which can apply to their own imperfect existences. His art is intentionally abstract to create more archetypal experiences for the onlooker. Although the subject matter of Genotti’s compositions is largely based upon internal reference points, the experience becomes secondary to the decisions he makes when constructing a work through formal aspects like line, circulation of color, or scale. Paramount to his practice is the shared relationship between the artist, subject, and image.

Agora Gallery’s group show, Exotic Reveries explores the contemporary notion of exoticism. The artists featured in this exhibition utilize the traditional aesthetic of Asian and Middle Eastern art and decoration while taking a more comprehensive approach to the subject of exoticism. Rather than twisting the narrative to fit the Western mold, they become ambassadors of their own cultures or witnesses who observe the foreign with open hearts and minds. Genotti’s work and practice reinforce themes of exoticism and are depicted in the three works that vary dramatically in scale, but remain constant in their potent messaging.

ronnie genotti opening reception
Artist Ronnie Genotti (left) talking to gallery guests during the opening reception of his exhibition

Gethsemane, 2022 a masterful allegorical 10-panel opus, is predominantly verdant and presents a rendering of a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, where Jesus underwent the agony and was arrested before his crucifixion. Knowing Gesthsemane holds a great place of resonance in Christianity, the artist invites the viewer to draw parallels to the contemporary culture where bullying is prevalent and just as dangerous.

Gethsemane, Oil on Canvas, 72″ x 240″
Gethsemane, Oil on Canvas, 72″ x 240″

Wintertree 2, 2022 a mid-sized oil on canvas is a bold abstract painting crowded with slabs of bold colors that emerge amongst skeins of white paint. Onslaughts of visual noise confront the viewer, alluding to the discomfort of alternative lifestyles that bubble beneath the frozen surface of mainstream culture.

St. Constance, 2022 a petite square work, features a central cluster of blue and green tones. Pleasingly calligraphic in manner, the namesake implies a somber pitch that refers to Saint Constance, the patron saint of young people and spinsters. As the story goes, Saint Constance suffered from leprosy which made her an outcast in society, which correlates to contemporary society with those who suffer from AIDS and experience prejudice and alienation.

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Genotti’s work explores weighty themes that attempt to transmit an experience while eliciting an emotional response from the viewer. Through universal motifs, the artist hopes his audience finds their own meaning within his body of work that is unclouded by his personal narrative.

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