“The desire to create is the strongest feeling I know.”
The American realist painter Victor Grasso paints quirky works that resonate with a dark underside. With a Norman Rockwell lightness of touch Grasso channels the macabre surrealism of Tim Burton.
Growing up in the 1990s Grasso was fascinated by comic book super heroes but when he was introduced to the work of the old master’s the impression on the adolescent was profound.
As he told the Huffington Post’s Eddie Parsons “Growing up my dream was to be a comic book artist. I drew characters and super heroes all day and I idolized the comic artists of the nineties. But things changed when my sixth grade art teacher asked me "What are you interested in?" My response was "Death and Animals." The next day she came in with a torn out page of an art book with Peter Paul Rubens' "PrometheusBound" on it. I was blown away by that painting -- it never left me.”
But even at that early age the macabre had him in its thrall. As his mother explained in the trailer for the film Grasso; Beyond the Paint “He went through catholic grade school [and] the nuns would confront me with fact that my child’s creativity was very much demented.”
Ignoring further education after high school, Grasso found work with an Atlanta based mural company on the strength of his “portfolio full of drawings of monsters and goats.” After a couple of years he branched out on his own doing commissions by day and his own work in his free time. After a successful exhibition in his home town of Cape May, New Jersey in 2008 Grasso was “able to focus on my work and show throughout the country.”
Now with his work having been shown from New York to San Francisco along with regular solo shows in his home town, Grasso continues to explore the stories sourced from his imagination.
As he explains “I relate to the inner struggle of the anti-hero. So my paintings tend to have a dark or quirky overtone. Realism roots the image down so people can relate to it, something familiar. I love painting the female form, which I think lends a universal appeal to the work… Many of my paintings reflect situations that don't often exist in everyday life, like a woman draped in an octopus or a nautilus shell floating under a woman's chin but I strive to make it as real as possible to bring you into my world. So deciphering details and translating them in paint allows me to bring the uncanny to life.”
Grasso’s current exhibition The Naturalist is on show at Cape May’s SOMA NewArt Gallery until the 7th of September.