Realism meets surrealism in the intense and striking female portraits of Marco Grassi. His work brings together elements of pure decoration with unexpected and bright colour combinations and lacquering, which has led some commentators to label him as a pop artist.

However, Marco has never allowed his works to become objects of fashion with only a fleeting relevance to time and place.

Rather, each highly personal image is created as a tribute to the particular identity of his subject in the specific moment in which she is painted. With each portrait he seeks to captivate the viewer by creating a profound but silent dialogue between them and the woman in the painting.

Marco’s distinctive figures are delicate but they have a determination and energy to them which is partly due to his bold and distinctive palette. Until recently his style was defined by decisive brushstrokes used to outline each form and bring stability to the composition, but he is now exploring the ideas of uncertainty, blurring the boundaries and allowing the figures to integrate themselves fully with the complex weave of colour and shape.

During the summer of 2013, Marco visited Russia to study methods and symbols relating to figurative works and devotional icons from the Byzantine tradition. Since then he has become more concerned with using the background as a tool to reflect his subject’s mesmerising facial expressions and their intense silence, and making the viewer feel a sense of complicity with the observer. One outstanding feature of Russian icons is their recurring use of gold leaf for halos and backgrounds which gives a distinctive warmth, colour and atmosphere to each piece. In Marco’s work, the women have Nike baseball caps rather than halos of course, but he was captivated by the effect of the gold leaf and began to incorporate it into his backgrounds to stunning effect. It has now become a key element in the character of each piece.

Born in Milan in 1966 Marco now lives and works in Lugano, Switzerland. His works have been exhibited in many solo shows including at Stella Mccartney Space - Milano/New York, Gallery Vavilon - Samara, Russia, and many other galleries in cities as varied as LA, Rome, London and Perth (Australia). He was honoured to be selected to be at the opening of the Italian Pavilion, at the Venice BIennale in 2011.

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