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January-February 2009

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Weather Talk: Tornadoes in Art

Painter John Brosio’s exhibit, Tornadoes, is currently on display at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C.

My focus on tornadoes began with the same fascination and awe we all feel when viewing the more overt displays of nature. But in combining this natural phenomenon with art I have found an overwhelming range of options to explore. The shapes and colors are engaging enough in their own right and lend to a kind of biomorphic abstraction as an end in itself—almost pure abstraction at times. In a good deal of my work I have also used the twister as allegory: the tornado came to represent for me the 800-pound gorilla—the storm that is often ignored while we all play house, especially over the last decade or so in which these works were created. For instance, the buildings in my paintings are sometimes “flat” in appearance to mimic the fragile fakery of movie set facades while “reality” consumes the distant landscape. And my figures are on occasion costumed against the honesty of what is going on behind them. I see these almost as dioramas in a kind of Dreamland instead of anything having to do with destruction.
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