Paul Catalanotto ~ Polished Frescos

Artist Statement




Polished frescoes stem from my experience as an artisan plasterer mixing tints and oxides into lime and plaster and troweling it up to a polish as a wall finish in the high end world of architecture. Once I untethered from other peoples vision of what plaster can be my process became an exploration of the medium itself, setting it free in an unrestricted environment, constantly learning from it and pushing it beyond its previous limitations. Because I make my medium from scratch and I’m physical with it, I’ve noticed colors’ effects on the medium.  Red makes the plaster thin, it seeps into everything like a virus.  Blues are thick, they stay and blanket while yellows have what I call the “Goldilocks Effect” – just right, they're the easiest colors to work with.  I had my “AHA” moment when I noticed that when brown plaster dried it was weaker and more brittle then the richer colors.  Brown plaster’s physical energy matched its visual energy, just like when things turn brown in nature, they are usually old, or dead.  After looking at color’s behavior as light, in a medium and how our eyes receive photons of light, I started to see colors effect on everything. 


My current process relies heavily on the physical properties of color, how they react with each other and my plaster medium to embody our visual experience.  I start out by troweling on sticky, strong and impenetrable black plaster as my universe.  Then I send in the intense colors of the light spectrum in order starting with Red.  I let all the mixing happen naturally on the board to create earth like tones.  What my trowels pull off I often recycle back in.  Energy is constantly gained and lost as the tinted plaster arrives and blends.  Gradually I start adding more and more white plaster to imitate the constant bombardment of sunlight.  At certain points I lose all control, get lost and break away from all the patterns and rules to create the exciting but brief moments when things are out of place.  I liken my trowels to the forces of nature, compressing, burying, scraping back, pushing and pulling the tinted plaster to bring out its true colors.

All the while I use my plastering skills to keep the surface somewhat flat so I can eventually burnish and polish it up. This whole process yields abstract compositions with subtle permutations of color that stimulate a unique sense of imagery for each viewer.


Paul Catalanotto


Cat Alan Otto










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