Louis Fratino, Large Flowers, 2021. Oil on canvas, 90 × 90 × 4 7/8 inches (228.5 × 228.5 × 4.6 cm). Courtesy the artist and Ciaccia Levi, Paris-Milan. Photo by Mel Taing. © Louis Fratino
Louis Fratino is a New York–based painter whose work fuses personal memories with art historical references to explore queerness, intimacy, and love in gestures and scenes of everyday life. The oil painting Large Flowers foregrounds a bouquet of flowers arranged in a glass vase on a tabletop, behind which the artist himself appears in a small self-portrait. Presented at larger-than-life scale, the floral arrangement is an alluring and colorfully vibrant assortment of violets, carnations, poppies, and roses, each signifying ideas of beauty, sensuality, affection, and passion. Fratino typically begins his work from drawings that recall a particular mood or moment, and then expands upon these compositions in scale, form, and color during the painting process. While his color rich paintings are often likened to cubism (as well as other modernist styles), their tactile surfaces—finely scored and textured through the use of palette knives and scraping—convey a sense of touch, rawness, and labor. For Fratino, who experiences red-green color blindness, the dynamic tension in his compositions allows him to search for ways to represent the emotions and expressions of what he calls the “mysticism around painting, where you can manifest something through it, [whether] it’s something as simple as doing the dishes, or being in love with someone, or feeling close to your family.” Large Flowers invokes notions of intimacy and love through the sensual language of flowers, referencing the artist’s distinctive style and subject matter.