Thomas Scullin, artist and full-time professor at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, is showcasing his work in an exhibit titled “Allegorical Paintings” located at the Ware Center in Regitz Gallery from April 7 through April 30.The exhibit consists entirely of colorful oil paintings that depict historical allegories, or visual narratives that serve as metaphors.
Each painting contains references to renowned artists throughout history. One of Scullin’s pieces titled “Allegory, Trapped in Pompeii” contains snippets from the works of Masacio, Caravaggio and Michelangelo that are stylistically altered to achieve his message.
“[The artists] are trapped on this small spinning marble of existence,” said Scullin. “All the wanderers of creation…are but a fingernail clipping…of the past that nature and wars wipe out.” Inspired by his experiences traveling through Europe, Scullin photographed a variety of sites he found to be influential. “Europe is infused with a cycle of creation, war, and reconstruction,” said Scullin. “I consider these places to be sacred.”
These images are then pieced together to create panoramas, which eventually function as visual references to set the stage for his paintings. Scullin thoughtfully places characters throughout his compositions so that they serve as symbolic and appear to engage with one another in order to further the narrative. “I always like to include an animal…since humans make themselves too important,” said Scullin, referencing his inclusion of creatures both real and mythical.
He uses sources from both art history and public domain for his subjects. Aiming for a Hyper-Baroque style, Scullin enhances figures through haloed effects and vibrant hues in order to create a miraculous feel in each painting. “It is only after much experimenting, revising, and amplifying effects to the limit, that I can finally “surrender” the painting to completion,” said Scullin.” Scullin works on about six paintings at a time, using each piece to influence each other as they develop.
“In the end, it is all about problem-solving,” said Scullin. “It requires a lot of time to resolve a historical or ethical situation into a dramatic and interesting conclusion.” The exhibit’s opening reception was held on April 7, during extended evening hours as part of downtown Lancaster’s Frist Friday. Scullin was present to welcome visitors and answer questions regarding his work. Some of the attendees at the reception included students from PCA&D who were eager to come by and support their professor. Scullin is the only founder left at PCA&D and has been teaching full-time college for thirty-seven years.