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Fernand d’Onofrio

Fernand d’Onofrio is unconventional and not one to follow trends.  This gave food for thought to those who have tried to describe his work.

In the decade of the 80’s, the artist enters painting through the door of Surrealism. He then passes on to a world of hyperrealistic abstraction where planks live alongside knotted, twisted fabrics.

Flouting academic ranking, Fernand D’Onofrio, raises confusion as he invites us to follow him into a cubist universe, populated with  furtive beings escaping anatomy studies. Suddenly, there he is fathering skinned androids. These tormented souls, these tortured bodies will metamorphose in athletes irradiating strength and determination. No one seems to be able to stop. They will then become interweaved through passionate carnal entanglements,  revealing occasionally, the bust of a bull or fervent lovers.

In his creative effervescence, the artist will give birth to organs residing at the frontier of the physiological functions and the industrial world. Pursuing this path through the combustion of entangled bodies. His phase of female nudes seems like a pause in this frantic search for the being in itself. The skin as a cloth that bears strange swathed forms wakes a new fascination.

Going beyond the sheath the artist descends at a cellular level using textures that seem to be controlled by the spontaneous rhythm of life. In his quest Fernand leads us into a world of flamboyant molecules floating at the foreground of a universe which could absorb us…

D’Onofrio’s intuition incites him to suddenly stop in his creative movement.

He is not crossing over a desert, he is being led through a door, a door that had been closed  for a while leaving behind his surrealist period of entangled humans and mechanisms denouncing the hold of the machine over man. Through the door, left ajar, one can perceive another world, not too different from the almost human figures he had left behind. To express his vision Fernand D’Onofrio decides then to complement his art of painting by using digital images. He must go back to the humanness. In his new adventure, the artist goes back to basics: children are at the center of the balance of a world to come. The apprehension of the transition  of childhood in to adulthood is, in itself a trial . The children are lenient  and critical in these images and their attitude mirror our actions. The artist does not consider himself a painter over a photographer, or a digital imaging technician,  he simply creates images.  Regardless of the medium he uses, these images must stir, surprise, inquest. Fernand D’Onofrio photographs as  he paints,  at the service of the feelings that haunt him and yet shadow him freely. That is about all I need to say.

Jean Marie Haeffelé, chief editor of the newspaper l’Alsace
Translation: Vera Saeme 

1963 His parents having arrived in France in1952, Fernand d’Onofrio was born in Guebwiller, a small town in Alsace nestled between the soft Vosges Mountains and opulent vineyards.

1971 D’Onofrio wins first place in a drawing competition organized by his school.  This marks the start of his true passion for painting

1978 The boiler-room in the basement of his parents’ house becomes his first studio.  He has his first show in 1979.  He applies to the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Mulhouse and is rejected.  The resulting feeling of injustice propels D’Onofrio in a frenzy of work

1981 He leaves his parents’ home to settle in a small apartment, which becomes his studio.  In these calm and friendly surroundings he organizes debates on art and its social role

1982 D’Onofrio often goes to Paris and his works are shown at the Grand Palais. The Centaure Gallery has an exhibit the next year.

1984 AGF, a major insurance company, invites him to show his works at its headquarters in Lyon.  Critics unanimously predict a bright future to the young artist

1986 An idea has sprung in his mind:  his studio would become a laboratory where he would test the possibilities of this new synthetic medium, acrylic paint.

1988 Switzerland and more particularly Basel afford him an ideal observatory for the discovery of international artists as well as the opportunity to measure himself up to them.

1989 He joins a group of international artists from the tri-border region between France, Germany and Switzerland.

1991 He leaves the metalwork factory where he had earned a living for ten years to fly to the U.S.A.  For the next eight years he will spend much time in Philadelphia, New York and Chicago.  He settles first at George School in Newtown close to Philadelphia.

1992  Show at the Schmitt-Dean Gallery in Philadelphia.

1993 D’Onofrio finds a home for his studio in the old Steinway factory in a small town near Chicago.  Depressed and feeling isolated he is running out of resources and tries to sell his paintings at any price.  This crisis drives him to destroy many of his paintings just before the landlord evicts him.

1994 D’Onofrio goes to Chicago, a city holding a special place in his heart.  Not a surprise since the city was for a long time the lifeblood of the country.  He meets a generous furniture maker who invites him to set up his studio at 2222 Elston Street.  That same year he creates a gigantic fresco for the World Paper Company of Chicago.

1996 The Elmhurst Museum invites him for an important exhibit on the theme of color as mirror.  .

1999 D’Onofrio is sought after and commissioned by a local daily newspaper for a painting to be carried by Claudie Aigneray, the French astronaut, on board the Franco-Russian space mission Cassiopeia.

2000 He organizes a show for the publishing of his limited edition book, Perioste.

2001 The River Run Film Festival of New York entrusts him with the creation of their inaugural poster.  The Holcim Company commissions ten large paintings for their new headquarters in Zurich.

2002 Corona of Mexico buys the entirety of two successive shows presented in 2002 and 2003 at the International Art Salon of Madrid.  In October the city of Lucerne in Switzerland shows his work.

2004 Two simultaneous shows are organized in New York at the Tama Gallery and at the Henry Gregg Gallery in Brooklyn.

2005  He discovers Morocco and he is deeply moved.  He describes the country as timeless, moving and carnal. This country is a pearl which must not be taken from its jewel case.  The light embracing it is a delicate perfume, fragile and sumptuous at once” he declares.  In a page long article “Le Matin” praises his career, his artistic qualities and more particularly his vision of the world around him.

2006 He is commissioned for a monumental fresco for a chateau nestles in the vineyards, near Colmar the Alsatian wines capital.

2007 D’Onofrio is invited for another visit to Morocco.  An exhibit entitled Solar Choreography is organized in collaboration with two Moroccan artists at the Villa des Arts in Rabat.

2008 At the opening of the Villa des Arts exhibit he meets Karim Bennani who invites him to show his works at his brand-new foundation.  At the same time, having already acquired one painting, CNIA commissions a very large one for their headquarters in Casablanca.

The organizers of the Dubai film festival notice D’Onofrio and invite him to realize a public performance on a very large canvas. Fascinated by the quality of his work done impromptu and live in front of  television cameras, they invite him to come back late in 2009.

2009 In January, D’Onofrio accepts the invitation of the French Institute in Meknes.  The Meknes Tafilalet region, the magnificent hub of a very rich past, will inspire him for his forthcoming show.  In May-June, D’Onofrio exhibits his works at the Venise Cadre Gallery in Casablanca.

2010 New york. Exhibition at the Henrygreggalery.
Tunisie: exhibition in July of monumental paintings.
Annecy France: exhibition  in December sponsored by Christian Monteil President of the General Council of Haute Savoie.

2011 Supports the candidacy of the Annecy winter Olympic Games 2018 by making a big painitng to the Olympic Committee.

2012 Exhibition et the Clarus gallery in Sologne

2013 Exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in the city of Mulhouse.
Exhibition at the Nichido Gallery, Paris.
Group exhibition at the Carousel du Louvre, Paris,