Manuele Cerutti’s Portrait straddles the gulf between convention and experimentation. It resembles a strange aggregate of old master portraits, pieces of unfinished, experimental impressionism, and semi-abstract works of modernism.
Like Rembrandt, Cerutti creates an intrinsic luminescence. The light which reflects off the thin greasy sheen covering the forehead and nose may be peripheral, but there is also a warm red glow from within, which animates the face and makes us feel the flush of the man depicted.
Like Degas, Cerutti is unafraid of revealing the thick ochre primer which serves to create the deep brownish hues of the painting’s more worked-up areas.
Like Francis Bacon, Cerutti cuts out a large, curved segment of the face, and reconfigures it in a new position. The rich oranges and browns that, we imagine, might have covered the exposed primer to ‘complete’ the right eye and cheek are, in this painting, strangely offset, brushed on at the extreme right-hand edge of the stretched linen.
It is, of course, the combination of all these elements which makes the portrait decidedly contemporary. Acting as part-painter part-curator, Manuele Cerutti has masterfully compounded the practises of his predecessors to form his own unique style.