Biography of TONY GREEN

TONY GREEN: The Inspired Craft

Mastery is a word seldom heard today in the hallowed halls of the arts. Striving for technical excellence, a life-time self-teaching quest, the great game which once represented the sole qualification by which an inspiring artist could first qualify for recognition in the noble craft of painting, this long apprenticeship dedicated to a hand-eye coordination guided by the inspiration of the mind has lost the prestige it once held. The craft of which we are speaking is, similar to the life-rendition to which novelists once aspired, the arcane knowledge of how to apply wet pigment to a dry surface in order to celebrate the world.

TONY GREEN has resisted the temptation to take the easy way, the glib fashionable conformity of the post-1968 caravan which for more than forty years has offered the quick itinerary for climbing the slopes of Parnassus. TONY GREEN has stuck to his guns. The easy option of jumping on the band-wagon of the avantgarde was beneath consideration. Art in our time has become the exclusive realm of ideology, and whoever requests a membership card in this essentially politically (correct) movement with all its conformities, will thus qualify as participant in the exclusivity of the "contemporary." This gambit had already grown stale by the year 1920, when Raymond Radiguet memorably provoked the already accepted rebels of Paris by saying, "Don't shock the bourgeoisie: shock the avantgarde." A lesson which only the chosen few since then, from Paul Derain to Giorgio de Chirco, have heeded.

TONY GREEN stands among those who, coming from across the Atlantic, have followed in the footsteps of masters such as James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent. The concert violinist after endless years of practice suddenly has the awareness during a particularly difficult passage in a concert performance that the angel has touched his shoulder -- the moment when excellence becomes effortless: this is mastery. Likewise the painter, especially those who take on the challenge of the seemingly simple manuality of painting in oils, much less the tricky elusive craft of watercolour --a club to which all but a very few aspiring practicioners qualify-- who after years dedicated to the perfection of his art, knows for a fleeting instant while at work that he too has felt the brush of the angelic plumes. "Painting is a glimpse," Willem de Kooning said, that small eternity to which Henry James often made reference.

Those who look at paintings live in the Before and in the After; it is the privilege of the artist alone to live in the During. It is strange that the rules of visual art have in recent decades been so modified by "intellectual" fashion while the synthax of every best selling novel of today has continued to be expressed in the "conventional" prose of a hundred years ago. In his native New Orleans on the Golf of Mexico, as in his adopted Adriatic gateway of Venice, TONY GREEN looks, perceives, observes the pageant of life as it is, and as it has always been. But to capture it, in our photo-saturated times, how many now can render it in paint?

Venice, 2012