Made in St. Louis: An Experimental Painter Was Inspired by Videos | Lifestyles
By Pat Eby Special for the Post-Dispatch
If it hadn’t been for the videos and a pandemic, the artistic career of Cesare Venegoni and his animated abstract paintings might not have progressed so quickly. This artist with a degree in communication has skills in management, butchery, mathematics, algorithms and computer science. Surprisingly, these disparate skills all contribute to his success as an artist.
When his job in the insurance industry came to an end during the harsh recession of 2008, Venegoni fell back on a skill he had learned well from his grandfather and namesake: butchering.
“I woke up one day going back to my roots,” he says. The job of butcher and meat manager in a department store was physically and mentally exhausting. To relax, he watched videos of poured paints.
“A painter once pulled out a giant aluminum dustpan, put a bunch of paint in it, then used it to pour the paint onto the canvas in a video. I had exactly that dustpan in my My first thought was “that’s not how you hold a dustpan”.
“I realized I was watching someone use something that wasn’t an art supply to make art, and that set me on fire,” Venegoni says.
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Observe and learn • Venegoni undertook his own training in color and chromatics, studying masters like Josef Albers, Yves Klein and Stuart Semple. It also follows James Jirat and Canadian artist Callen Schaub.
“It’s a pretty consistent line for me. If you do something with unusual color combinations and bright colors, I’m into it,” he says.
Pour it on • He began making pour paintings in which he used his dust pan, squeegees and other non-artistic tools to move the paint around. He quickly realized that he needed more control over the results of his payments. When a second cut ended his life in the grocery store, he had time to think about tweaking his processes.
He took a temporary job that turned into a full-time position as a fraud detection specialist at Square’s downtown headquarters. The pandemic and the time saved from working from home have pushed Venegoni into creative overdrive. He set up a studio in his basement and set about painting in the new found time.
Tools of the trade • Venegoni has drawn on his experience of trades to master his tools and materials in his art. “I took a tradesman’s approach to learning what goes into paint, how to make it and how it performs. I started to use brushes more. I mainly use a palette knife to create depth and texture. I guess you can say I used to hold a piece of metal in my hands.
He even created his own custom paints and colors, working with gloss and matte gels and three primary pigments – cyan, magenta and yellow, to which he would add black or white, to mix his own paint.
To escape • His first exhibition at the Renaissance Airport Hotel was not planned. Shortly before starting his work at Square, an artist friend told him that the hotel was looking for art.
“Each month an artist comes in and the hotel puts on a show in the lobby and displays the art and the artist on a lighted board outside,” says Venegoni. “My wife said to me, ‘You should send the pictures of your things.’ So I came down, took pictures and sent them. They said yes, right away. In July 2019, I had a month-long exhibition and sold five paintings. Life is amazing. Of course, I panicked and thought, ‘I’m doing it now.’
Paint by numbers and algorithms • He upped his game. Venegoni wasn’t happy with the muddy colors of some of his pours, so he studied color theory and experimented.
He works out his patterns and chromatics using chance and algorithms, which fits his theory that the world is chaos tamed by order. In several TikTok videos, he flips a deck of playing cards, one at a time — chance and chaos. From them he developed an algorithm – rules and order. He used painter‘s tape to create each area and worked the piece as the cards fell.
He approaches each canvas with a different set of ideas of chromaticism and form, planning random chaos and imposing a colorful order.
Artist • Cesare Venegoni
Family • Venegoni is married to Halley Moore, who designed the CVV Art website through his company, Calliope Insights. They live with two cats, Homewrecker and Nikita, who act as studio cats, art critics or social media food moochers, depending on their mood.
What is he doing • Venegoni creates large-scale abstract paintings. He paints using guidelines he develops for each piece for color, rhythm and composition. His work is experimental, and as such, constantly evolving. What started as experiments with flow techniques turned into explorations of his interests in mathematics, algorithms and advanced color theory.
Or buy • Venegoni’s paintings are available on his website, imcvv.com.
How much • Venegoni currently only sells original paintings. His paintings range from $1,500 to $5,000.