NARRATIVES AND ALLEGORIES
The pinnacle of the hierarchy of the arts in the Old Master tradition was what used to be called "history painting," that is, narratives and allegories: stories or images with a wider cultural or conceptual reach than simple representation.
All of it is informed by what the seventeenth century writer Pietro Bellori called "l"Idea del Bello," or the Idea of the Beautiful. That beauty, for the classical artist, resides in the ideal, a more perfect version of the real clarified by long study of the ancients and Old Masters. Discerning what, within that tradition, is worth emulating is what artistic judgment is all about. Not all Old Masters painted alike, and a judicious integration of rigorous disegno and bravura painterly technique are David Mayernik's hallmarks.
What narrative painting demands of the figurative artist is not only the capacity to invent figures and scenes without recourse to the staged model, but more importantly that Idea that Bernini prized as the essence of the artistic act. The mythological, allegorical, and sacred stories can still be told and retold with novel interpretations: my paintings of Apollo & Daphne choose a psychological moment after Daphne's transformation, evoking Apollo's remorse and Peneus' reproach. This is a wholly new take on the story, yet rooted in the tradition.
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