After completing his studies at New York’s School of Visual Arts, he moved to Paris, where he studied and performed mime and ballet, working closely with Marcel Marceau, who also painted, and Etienne Decroux, a sculptor as well as the originator of the form “classical mime,” which has roots in the sculpture of Rodin. If the word “sea” in the title of a painting conjures for you images of little easels and landscape canvases featuring sandy beaches, waves, and vast horizons, think again – Colucci’s oceanic visions are experiential, viewing them you are often looking down at the sea, within it, or even dreaming of the ocean. Water, deep or shallow, still or fast-moving, rules how we see light and subjects, as the artist works to reflect what he calls “the spirit, the soul of the water.”
In “Deep Blue,” he conjures this anima via a window through levels of roiling currents of rich dark waves and dancing highlights, inviting the viewer to experience the sea as a vibrant and enveloping sensual entity. Colors, too, differ from the subdued palette of the seaside afternoon painter. Often his choices originate in what Colucci describes as the rhythm of color present in AfroCarribean art and design. In the paintings, these hues express a body of work that represents me.
In “Driftnet’” a favorite of his, he reflects his vigorous manifesto of painterly virtuosity by taking the time to capture one glowing moment, capturing the shimmer of one glowing moment a taste, a touch, a kiss so that it may be enjoyed again and again. Returning to Colucci’s relationship with Marceau, he revealed to me that the master of mime did not approve many choices he made in his own performances, but acknowledged that without innovators the craft itself would not captivate future generations and live on.
Pushing the boundaries of the spirit and substance of Abstract Expressionism begun by the New York School artists, with a voice and vocabulary uniquely his own, Steven Colucci manages to keep a foothold in history while reaching out to touch the future. What is his advice to artists? “Don’t think about the solution. Just paint,” he says. “Paint.”