Father Jerome Tupa
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The Making of the Uncommon Mission Series
Upon returning to his studio at Saint John's Abbey and University, with spirit and energy renewed, Tupa began work on the twenty-one oil paintings, completing the project eight months later, in the spring of 1998.
About the Artist.
While studying in France in the early 1970s, Tupa resumed drawing and painting. Because he was spending a lot of time in his room writing, he began painting and drawing the familiar items that surrounded him: tables, chairs, and windows. These works were exhibited in 1974 at the Librairie Saint Severin, Paris.
In 1976, Tupa returned to Saint John's University to teach. While director of the university's French studies program in Aix-en-Provence, the spectacular region of France that inspired the painter, Paul Cézanne, Tupa created and exhibited his first landscapes. In the years since, he has produced a large body of work, often influenced by his travels abroad. His paintings have been exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe.
Style and Technique.
Clearly evident in the Uncommon Mission series is Tupa's pure and forceful use of color, line, shape, and texture. While representational in many respects, the paintings present each Mission altered in some way: flattened, viewed inside out, with added elements, or reduced to essential shapes and bold blocks of color.
Compare the paintings Cloister and Bell Tower and Loving Towers with the other oils in the exhibition. These are the only two paintings in the exhibition in which Tupa used wax as a painting medium. This technique gives the surfaces of these paintings an impasto, or thickly layered, look.
Several of the oils in the exhibition include elements that, although not visible at the Mission itself, were added to the painting by Tupa because he felt they were needed. Compare, for example, the actual Mission photographs to the paintings.
Tupa's Artistic Explorations
After Tupa's return to the United States, series after series followed, including Sentinels of Fire, The Goddess Series, and the Memorare Series. Through each of these series-and through the use of vibrant color, holy symbols, and iconic shapes - he explored humankind's relationship with God and the healing power of the divine.
Tupa explains: "Painting for me is part of the way of finding a balance between the ordered, sane, doctrinaire life of the monastery-where the underpinnings are actually liberating-and the need to express myself.Painting, like spirituality, is liberating. Both are expressions of one's distinct and deeper relationships with the works-and with God."
First posted April, 2001.
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Last modified Wednesday March 23, 2011