Colette Calascione was born in San Francisco in 1971 and received her B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute. She resides in California.
Inspired by books and images of earlier eras, particularly the Victorian era, Calascione invents a world that is her own. Images of women and children in old photographs are transformed in the artistâ€™s hands. She never literally copies a photo or its background. When she sees a figure she likes, her vision forms around it. Clothed figures in photographs are sometimes undressed by Calascione in her paintings, and placed in a mise-en-scene she creates. Rarely does the environment surrounding the figure come directly from a book or photo, as a â€œquote.â€
Addressing the issue of gender identity and particularly that of â€œfemale identity,â€ Calascioneâ€™s imagination takes her into flights of fancy and fantasy in her paintings. She paints women in all guises, mostly unclothed, sitting on divans brocaded in satin, standing provocatively looking at the viewer, reclining on a bed surrounded by the stuff of dream and fantasy, purring cats, fairy tale fish, toy soldiers
Her painting, â€œTraveling Hermit,â€ gives the appearance of a masterwork, a classic posed â€œportraitâ€ of an elegant woman of stature, dressed in velvet and lace, with exotic hat. The imagined hat, like attenuated wings, focuses the viewerâ€™s attention on the ladyâ€™s eyes—are they there, or are they not? Calascione always evokes in the viewed a multitude of questions: this painting has the â€œseerâ€ being seen, by eyes that take us to the great beyond.
Painted like Old Master paintings in many layers of oil, the artist beguiles us with her images and her imagination.