Blood art: NY artist Vincent Castiglia paints with his own blood

Updated: 01 Nov 2012
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Vincent Castiglia
 
Many artists claim to put their blood, sweat and tears into their work, but Vincent Castiglia means it: He paints with his own blood.

The New York painter has a new exhibit, Resurrection, in Manhattan's Soho neighbourhood that features a number of his paintings from the last 10 years, all of which were created with his blood.

Castiglia, 30, said that his first experiments with this medium were prompted by a "need to connect with my work on the most intimate level". Human blood contains iron oxide, he explained, a pigment found in many traditional paints, and which occurs naturally in iron ore and common rust.

The public's reaction in the past has been overwhelmingly positive, he said, but he doesn't discount that some people could find his choice of medium creepy or gimmicky.

"My response would be to really take a look at the content of the work, which overshadows what it's made from, I think," he said. "In order for something to be a gimmick, it really would have to lack substance."
 
Vincent Castiglia artwork
 
Vincent Castiglia artwork
 
Vincent Castiglia artwork
From top: 'Strata Of Self' (2010), 'Feeding' (2005) and 'Stings Of The Lash' (2005) are part of Castiglia's gallery show 'Resurrection' at the Sacred Gallery in New York. Below: Vials of blood, paintbrushes and a needle used by Castiglia for his blood art.
 
graphite sketch
 
His process includes making a preliminary pen or graphite sketch and extracting just enough "paint" in the privacy of his studio. He then pulls out his brushes to paint surrealistic, red ochre-hued images typically featuring human bodies in some stage of decay paired with abstract backgrounds.

One of his larger, more detailed paintings can take more than three months to complete. His paintings range in price from US$950 to US$26,000. Rock musician Gregg Allman recently acquired a 2006 painting by Castiglia called Gravity.

His Resurrection exhibit is themed around Castiglia's interest in life's transience and harmony he sees between life and death. As an example, he cited Feeding, which depicts a mother with decaying legs in a wheelchair gazing at an infant she is breastfeeding. Castiglia said he sees it as an expression of the fragility of life and the hope and drive that can still accompany it.

His work is shown primarily the US and Europe, but Castiglia's art may be familiar to slasher movie and heavy metal aficionados.

In 2010, a piece by Castiglia served as the poster for horror flick Savage County, and other paintings were used as album art for Swiss heavy metal band Triptykon's debut Eparistera Daimones the same year.
 
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