Michael Costantini

Michael Costantini, born in San Francisco, was educated at the famed California College of Arts and Crafts, University of  the Pacific, and The San Francisco Art Institute. He completed formal education at the Dharma Realm Buddhist University in Northern California. Costantini's list of artists who influenced his work is headed by sculptor Richard  Faralla of Forestville and Inverness, California. He was apprenticed by the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco and later with William Sumner and Robert Gove, well known and highly sensitive stone carver who influenced many artists in Sonoma County, California. .

He studied with landscape architect/historian Tetsua Mizomoto, in Kyoto, Japan during the period 1984-85 gathering insight about the place of stonework in Japanese culture. During that period,  he studied stone work in 23 major Zen gardens. With sculptor/painter Flory Chow he studied stone carving and cutting, focusing upon Chinese monumental style, both in carving and landscape painting. Robert Gove, he says, fostered for him an awareness of the Zen pathway and for the function of the artist in contemporary society. Costantini tells us Ronald Chase, sculptor, painter and film maker, introduced him to serious art and cemented the decision to follow his artistic intuition.

While sculpture dominates his sensitivity and it forms the largest single element of his considerable output, he employs any means to solve a given problem, with great success. Painting, bass  relief, constructions, architectural metaphors and references, small and grand scale work are found along the road he travels. He presently lives and works in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

                                Reverence to Dharma

The Work of Michael Costantini

I found the work of Michael Costantini while on my own journey. Discoveries are never purely accidental nor wholly unanticipated. Just as metaphor speaks to us, at once, indirectly and directly, I experienced and visualized in his work events that I can describe as complete, as an inner sighing sensation, as knowing directly the work was right and proper. I compare this experience to a poem by  Miloscz, a line of which reads:

"...I was left behind with the immensity of existing things. A sponge, suffering because it cannot saturate itself; a river, suffering because reflection of clouds and trees are not clouds and  trees."1

Contemporary culture calls what Costantini has: "the right stuff." It is surely the correct and complimentary combination of scholarship, vision and dexterity essential to formulate individual artistic  significance.

It is customary for a critical essay about an artist's work to make clever comparatives with classical, known art. Proper examples exist, yet Costantini's work stands uniquely apart. I could make comparisons with former Sonoma County artist Marc DiSuvero, whose sculpture is monumental with industrial gestures that fuse wonderfully to form objects that human scope can contain. DiSuvero chose a palate for his work from tools and products of  modern society--construction steel and plowshares. Perhaps it is in these contemporary materials that his hook to our sensitivities lies.

With the sculpture of Costantini, I feel the presence of older, pre-human icons, perfectly monumental. The work is breath-taking as I realize and foresee their logical consequence. These works of art stand like inventions of a majestic, quiet, cosmic intelligence that are to be placed among us as reminders, recollections  of our own compounded origin that include the dimension of time. They echo his innate attraction to a formality inherent in universal matter, paradoxically enormous, ungraspable, beyond reach and infinitesimally small, atomic. And, these perceptions can evoke ideas of ancient cultures and times, times now lost to history, pyramids, invented gods, human sacrifice, human dignity, love.

I have lived with the work of Michael Constantini for many years. I study it daily where it hangs on the walls about me. In the room where I compose and perform music, I surrounded myself with huge scale paintings which properly combine with the music of my heart. In the garden, the earthly connectedness  of his immutable bronze pieces harmonize with the changing sculpture of a living nature. The formality seems at first to bear no resemblance to human or even animal origins, until one waits and watches.

                 I commend his work to all sentient souls.

                                                    Jack Leissring  - Santa Rosa, 1999

"Dance in the Cube"    -1994
 Acrylic  on board panel
          7-7/8x7-3/4"

                                  Silver wall relief    -1994
Sculpture - polychrome Wood additive painted wood sculpture
                                       6-1/4x6-1/8"

                                           Gold wall relief     -1994
 Sculpture - Polychrome Wood additive painted wood sculpture
                                             6-1/4x6-1/4"

 "           Small red painting"    -1994
Oil on stretched canvas (1x1"stretcher bars)
                                   10x10"

Copyright (c) 1999-2002 J.C. Leissring Fine Arts