Vincent Castiglia’s artwork gives a whole new meaning to the term life’s blood. The avantgarde painter’s new exhibit at the Sacred Gallery in SoHo showcases a collection of works painted solely with his own blood.
Even though Castiglia has worked with more traditional media, he wanted to connect with his art on a deeper level. Using his blood was a vehicle for accomplishing a natural rela- tionship to his work.
“I fell in love with it,” Castiglia said. “I felt a harmony with the medium for the first time…using blood was that missing link.”
The exhibit, called “Resurrection,” is a retrospective, showcasing a decade’s worth of Castiglia’s work. Each piece in the collection took between one and four months to complete depending on its size. Castiglia estimates he has used between 10 and 12 pints of his blood over the past 10 years, which medical professionals extract from him.
The artist mixes his blood with water to achieve the illusion of depth and variation of color, but there is no other diluting agent.
“I believe it touches on a lot of stations of the human experience that are universal to us all,” Castiglia said of his work. “Many of them would be considered darker or things that we might not want to necessarily look at, but they deal with both life and death and everything in between.”
The dark themes in Castiglia’s work have led some to deem it horror art. His paintings contain explicit nudity, decaying bodies and images that convey pain and suffering. Despite the potentially controversial subject matter, however, Castiglia said he has not encountered any negative feedback from critics or the public.
“If it were something that were obviously created for the purpose of shock value, I think it would be a different story,” he said. “But I think you can see that something much more than that is happening, something much more than sensationalism.”
CAS freshman Katie Moore visited the exhibit and was struck by the lighter themes present in Castiglia’s art. She said she appreciated the intense connection the artist had with his work, and the subtle undertones of easily accessible themes like motherhood and pregnancy.
“My favorite pieces were the ones in which you could see the blood had congealed,” Moore said. “It was a very graphic reminder of the literal blood, sweat and tears that he’d put into his work that make it so unique in its field.”
Castiglia’s one-of-a-kind style is undeniable, not only because of his unusual choice of medium, but because he pres- ents raw observations of the world.
“I wouldn’t be painting unless it was brutally honest because it’s part of how I experience life and understand the world,” he said. “[The pieces] are eras and periods of my life encapsulated in some sensible way.”
Sensible may not be the first word that comes to mind when looking at Castiglia’s blood-drenched artwork, but no one can deny its brutal honesty.
“Resurrection” is on display at the Sacred Gallery through Oct. 31 at 424 Broadway, second floor.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 11 print edition. Delia Kemph is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.