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Honest and courageous. Referential, but fresh and forward-looking. Colourful and expressive, are only some of the adjectives that could be used when referring to Louis Fratino’s paintings. An incredibly quantitative and qualitative research, which embraces gayness and overtakes many of the artistic dogmas, putting before us a pristine and emotional representation of the male body. 

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In recent times, Louis Fratino has gained the art world’s attention for his deeply personal body of work, a research that resembles a beautiful story, a journey in the painter’s intimacy that unveals the artist’s innermost experiences and fantasies, while attempting to represent the everyday life of gay men living in New York City. As senior art critic Antwan Sargent explains, Fratino and his queer peers share a common commitment towards the celebration of the diversity of their set of subjects; the disclosure of an openly gay point of view of the male body, long ignored, or censored, by art history throughout the past centuries. 

 

Louis Fratino, Weekend, 2018. Courtesy of Antoine Levi, Paris.

 

Louis Fratino, Self-Portrait with Dolphin, 2018. Courtesy of Antoine Levi, Paris.

 

In his paintings we can find a clever mixture both of strong referential elements, which relate him to some of the finest artists from the 1900s, such as Pablo Picasso, Henry Matisse and Fernand Léger, and a series of fresh and straightforward influences that the artist absorbs from his everyday life and his experience of the contemporary art world. Louis Fratino himself states: “I paint people I love, and I paint using the vocabulary of paintings I love, so the influence is very straightforward; if I see a painting that sets me on fire, I want to try and make something that feels like that.” A declaration both of freedom in the approach towards painting, and acceptance of the constant influence that a young artist is subject to when trying to understand his own artistic persona.

 

Louis Fratino, My Meal, 2019. Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York.

 

Louis Fratino, Furnace, 2018. Courtesy of Antoine Levi, Paris.

 

The setting that Fratino presents to the viewers scrutiny, has a strong pittoresque appearance and is of finest value, due to his mature usage of the expressive potential that can arise from colour, and the freshness communicated by his compositions, which are often of highly graphic disposal. What the observer experiences is a loving and honest story, a tale about young and joyful men living in contemporary times, where gayness is free to express its emotional power and translate itself into beautiful images which closely recall Matisse’s joie de vivre. When looking at Louis Fratino’s paintings, one should give in completely and embrace the variety of feelings that the artist attempts to communicate, while seeking for the most unexpected sensations to arise from the smallest details, knowing that even the most negligible feature can tell a story by its self. In Holland Cotter’s words: “Nearly every brush stroke and mark, every detail of furnishings and body hair, has a life of its own.”

Cover image: Louis Fratino, Metropolitan, 2019. Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York.

Written by Mario Rodolfo Silva

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.

 

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