"...Vincent Castiglia, a rare breed of talent." H.R. Giger
Vincent Castiglia is such an amazing and unique artist that film maker John Borowski has chosen Vincent to be the subject of his latest film Bloodlines: The Art & Life of Vincent Castiglia. In part one of this feature, enFOCUS is very fortunate and honored to get this brief glimpse into the life and work of this artist.
enFOCUS: VC, tell us a bit about your upbringing and first foray into art. (training, etc).
My upbringing, to speak forthrightly, was extremely abusive. I grew up with my mother who was very mentally ill (now deceased). She was a trash hoarder (among other things), and suffered with an almost crippling OCD. I grew up in a series of apartment-like landfills, stuffed floor to ceiling with rotting garbage, that I was not allowed to throw out. If I tried she fought me, if I threw it out in dumpsters down the block, she’s bring it back in the apartment, and even put it back in the refrigerator. Mice, dead mice which would be left on the floor to rot, maggots, roaches, legions of moths flying through the apartment, these were all aspects of a nightmare I was forced to accept as normal. The squalor was coupled with a procession of psychopathic boyfriends of her's, one sociopath in particular distinguishing himself as the vilest. Anyway, making art was how I survived. It started as the most effective way to dissociate from everything around me, where I found fleeting bits of reprieve from the horror. Then, as I kept doing it, making art just became something I did naturally, obsessively, and couldn’t get away from. Eventually, it became a kind of salvation, and place to put absolutely everything I couldn’t express in any other way. It was the one place I could create beauty out of the incredible monstrosity which was reality at the time. And today, it’s actually my 'guiding force’. If I didn’t have my work as an outlet over the course of my life, I’d certainly be dead or in prison at this point.
enFOCUS: VC, what were your influences and how have they formed and changed you over the years. And when did blood come into the picture?
Circumstance has been my greatest influence. In terms of art there are many, many of Giger’s, Dali’s, and Bacon’s works that stay with me. In terms of blood, I’d worked in every medium, and was at a place where I was happy with the content of the work (the images themselves) but still did not connect with the substance with which I was rendering the work. The work embodies a lot of extremely intense emotions, and experiences. Pain was the operative force at that time, so I felt, what better, more accurate way to communicate this than with a literal act which pain was a part of, and would cause a release of the one substance that is so essentially a part of me? It was there that I started experimenting with using my own blood in the work. I fell in love. It was the first time I’d ever felt truly one with my own work, and that something entirely truthful was being conveyed. It started in small amounts. But as the process evolved, using it at first for highlights and backgrounds, to painting exclusively with blood, the requirement for more blood grew.
enFOCUS: VC, When I initially tell people about your work, they get this look and always assume something different. I’m then compelled to show them your work just to see the surprise in their eyes. They are always amazed at the fine detail and the juxtaposition of horror and beauty. How do you deal with some of the reactions to your work?
Most reactions to my work are very positive. Most are in complete disbelief that it’s blood, since they can’t imagine it being used to create works with this level of refinement and draftsmanship. They normally associate blood with splatters. If people hear about the medium before they have a chance to the work itself, an inevitable prejudice occurs. The mention of someone ‘painting with blood’ would probably conjure the same prejudices in me if I were to hear about it casually from someone without a reference point.
enFOCUS: VC, What advice would you give to your fellow artists.
Remain utterly true to yourself. Never give up.
For more on Vincent Castiglia, visit his website at: www.vincentcastiglia.com