My name is V.F. Wolf and I am a mixed-media painter who currently maintains a studio in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. I was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico but grew up in Providence, Rhode Island. I am employed as a night watchman and guard at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. I was an officer in the regular Army and Army Reserve from 2000-2007 and have traveled extensively throughout the United States and lived in Egypt for a time. I received my Bachelor's degree in Art History (2007) and a Bachelors of Fine Art in painting (2011) from Rhode Island College. In addition, I received my Masters of Fine Art from Massachusetts College of Art and Design (2013). I also received a Certificate in Painting Studies (two-year program) from Rhode Island School of Design (2018).
I paint mixed media semi-abstract grotesque mask-like faces to analyze the shadow present in every society. In particular, my recent work speaks to my early adult life in the military. I am not illustrating my time in the military through this work; but instead elucidating more universal themes I experienced: anger, sadness, frustration and confusion. My work acts as a mirror of the world where the grotesque and distorted appearances of the figures captures my disgust and indignation in the face of the horrors of war and corruption of authority. The brutality I witnessed and at times was subjugated to lend itself to the aggressive and expressive nature of the work. I may start out with a specific memory; but it is ultimately shaped through the process of moving paint and materials around the support. I will often throw, slash, squeegee, and splatter various types of paint directly onto the canvas. As a result of this physicality in the making of the images, I feel that I am going into battle with it. I often want to beat the image into the very fiber of the canvas, burlap, or panel.
My inspirations include: The work of Antoni Tapies, Byzantine Art, Art Brut, and Arte Povera. Also, the philosophy of Albert Camus and my time spent in Egypt with the military.
I use my military experience as source material only. I would never do a direct illustration of my military experience, that's not universal enough. But instead as something to pull more universal themes from. I feel the military was my first art school for it taught me a lot about discipline and the daily practice of routine. But, that's where it ends for me, I am not a military/combat recorder of any type, but instead I am someone who uses his life experience as source material.
With this stated, I find it a crucial part of my practice to distance myself from whatever subject matter I’m portraying or else it becomes too much of a personal story. I’m after a wider context than that, I look to internalize a sense of universal/collective experience. The end product of the abstraction acts as a filter to keep my work from becoming too autobiographical.
It is this filtered residue that is a more concentrated form of my life, getting away from the personal to a place that is more universal.
Secondly, I create visual narratives using my personal archive of newspaper and magazine clippings and photographs of family and friends. I create hybrids or compositions based upon this source material. The new identities of my subjects thus becomes anonymous and open to new meanings.