RUMOR: Painter Sylvester Stallone to head NEA

Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone

Rumors are circulating that the Trump organization might be thinking about appointing Sylvester Stallone to head the National Endowment for the Arts. Most of us know that Stallone is an actor (Yo, Adrian), but few realize that he also identifies as a painter and is represented by Galerie Gmurzynska, a Swiss gallery that specializes in Russian avant-garde, modern art and classic contemporary. In 2015 Stallone had a solo exhibition at Musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain in Nice, France, during which  he spoke to Andrew Pettie at The Telegraph about his work.

Here are some excerpts from their interview.

“If I put a frame around a tree, the tree is going to grow through the frame. Well, I think that a painting, the more you look at it, [the more it] takes on different impressions and interpretations. You can’t frame an emotion forever. It’s constantly being expanded or taking on a bigger myth. Some paintings have taken on such grand history. I don’t think you can hold in anything that’s artistic. You can’t freeze it in time. The [incomplete] frame is symbolic of just letting it grow. As Anselm Kiefer said, the art is in transition.”

Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone

“Early on in my life I realised that man is totally pressed upon by the sense of time racing. Everything is timed. So I started to put clocks on my images, usually the ones of actors – Marilyn Monroe, W C Fields, Errol Flynn. Now if you imagine their lives lasted 12 hours, I would paint them at 10, as opposed to what they looked like at four. At four they’d be youthful, vibrant, optimistic. But then you move ahead to the 10th or 11th hour and reality has set in. Life is not everything you thought it was going to be. The colours have become darker, the eyes more sunken.”

Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone

“Usually I try to visualise something before I put it into words. Words are very difficult and sometimes unforgiving. So if I could see what Rocky looked like, then perhaps I could write about him. So I began to work on this image. But I didn’t want to use a brush because I felt that the character was made out of industrial tools. He was a man that was forged by the hardships of life. So I put this image up there and I started to actually carve it with a screwdriver. Then I took newspaper clippings which would reflect what it would be like to be a very poor, unsuccessful man, especially a boxer, and then, all of sudden, the image came alive. Then I said, ‘OK, this is a character I would like to see written about because he looked interesting visually.’ If he looked interesting visually, then I think that he would translate through to literature and then cinema. I know it sounds ambitious but that was the genesis of Rocky.”

“Sylvester Stallone, Real Love: Paintings 1975-2015,” Musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain, Nice, France. Through May 30, 2015. The exhibition is not posted on the museum’s website, but Stallone is represented by Galerie Gmurzynska, Switzerland. According to the gallery’s page on Artsy, they specialize in Russian avant-garde, modern art and classic contemporary.

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