Tuesday 21 November 2017

What lies beneath: Nude

Nude by Rocco Tullio, oil on canvas, courtesy the Open Window Gallery, Dublin 6

Nude by Rocco Tullio
Nude by Rocco Tullio

Niall MacMonagle

A man walked into a . . . No, no, this isn't smutty. How could it be when that man was walking into an art gallery? And so smitten was this business man and diamond dealer by Rocco Tullio's large painting that he "released a diamond" and bought it there and then.

This sudden, impulsive gesture at a Summer Show Opening on a recent summer's evening is one that he'll never regret. Another interested admirer has already asked him to sell it but his answer is no.

If diamonds are a girl's best friend, can't a striking painting be this business boy's?

The nude belongs to a noble artistic tradition. But when it comes to "clothes-free" it's not always straightforward.

There used to be that, now discontinued, tabloid page three girl. "Whooarr." What young women did to get attention!

The term naked was often considered unfortunate or saucy or vulgar: starkers; in the nip; au naturel. But say 'nude' and we are in the realm of art; nude is aesthetic territory.

Rocco Tullio's Nude certainly celebrates everything graceful, beautiful and mysterious.

The pose is that of someone self-contained. The closed eyes in that downward-tilted head suggest quiet modesty.

The dark background and the richly-coloured cloth highlight the golden figure.

Painted in Florence, where Tullio studied, the featured model was Italian. But was is the key word here. The more he worked, the longer he worked, Tullio discovered that the woman before him on the canvas was becoming more and more like his fiancée Ruby.

Today, 14 June, Rocco Tullio is marrying Ruby in a garden in County Wicklow, the Garden of Ireland.

Though obviously a time of great happiness there is an accompanying heartbreak: Paolo Tullio, Rocco's father, did not live to share this special day.

His recent death reminds us of life's inevitable sorrows. But a beautiful couple will marry knowing that they have Paolo Tullio's blessing.

May they live long, happy lives, may they add "years and years unto years"; may they see their fortieth wedding anniversary, their sixtieth; their ruby, their diamond.

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