Canadian born Renato Muccillo, son of Italian immigrant parents, started out painting high realism paintings in the late ’80s. He remembers working months on end to finish his photo-realistic pieces, living mainly off reproduction sales.
When photography turned digital and scanners became affordable, the market became flooded with reproductions, and Muccillo was forced to get a desk job. Coincidentally, as Muccillo remembers, “By the time I needed to change, I’d had enough of doing super-high realistic work.”
After seeing a show of the Group of Seven, a group of Canadian painters from the ’20s, Muccillo abruptly switched from one extreme to another and started painting in a very loose style. “From there, I found my way back into classical realism where I’m at now. It’s somewhat Flemish in style,” Muccillo adds. “It was a natural evolution.”
Renato Muccillo has been enjoying a successful career since with practically every show of the past 14 years selling out, often on the first day. His success results from his technical prowess and from what he communicates through his work.
“The reason I paint the things that I do paint is because the area that I live in (Fraser Valley and surroundings in Vancouver) just lends itself so well to it,” Muccillo said. “I have a very old dog, and we go to places that are off the beaten path, and I randomly photograph things that I find interesting and beautiful. It is very calming, almost meditative. You can just kind of lose yourself looking at the scenery sometimes.”
Muccillo muses about the pros and cons of modern life: “A lot of people get so caught up in the world these days, they barely take the time to see anything; to truly, actually see things; stop for a moment and look at things. And I guess that’s my goal: to basically stop people from doing what they’re doing, from thinking what they’re thinking, from being caught up in the rhetoric of what’s going on around them and just take a big breath and look around—to pacify them.”
Muccillo saw his efforts affirmed at a show opening a few years ago: “I had these large canvases, big cloud studies. The doors opened, and all these people who were going crazy buying these paintings stopped dead in front of this large canvas. It reminded me of a church, as I watched these people lined up, absolutely quiet, staring at this canvas. At that time, I felt like I actually achieved something that I’ve been working so hard to try and do for so many years. It was a really interesting experience. Translating to canvas this calm found in nature was a very conscious endeavor.”
“I’m an advocate for turning back to what is natural for us as humans and just appreciating the beauty of the things around us, rather than being consumed by things that happen 10,000 miles away, and you’re looking at them through a phone. I think we all suffer from this sort of madness. I know I do. You just want to turn it off sometimes.”
Renato Muccillo is represented by Howard/Mandville Galleries in Kirkland, Wash., and White Rock Gallery in White Rock, British Columbia.
Wim Van Aalst is a painter based in Belgium.