Italian artist Stefano Ronchi‘s work is undoubtedly an exploration of surrealism, but the most dumbfounding thing about it (aside from the attention to detail and composition) is the clarity in which it conveys the most personal messages from its creator. Ronchi makes the aesthetic aspect of painting and illustration look easy, even borderline trivial. While the initial effect is visually alluring, its the moments that follow, the time spent really NOTICING the image and everything in it, that gives his work a crucial edge. Stefano’s characters, settings, and symbols converge to form something more than a snapshot and more than a story; an allegory, layered with double meanings and more than enough room for interpretation.

A look through Stefano’s portfolio is a quiet glance into a churning mind that does not fear its own nightmares, but beckons them into being. One senses the wicked carnival atmosphere of a Coney Island freak show, hears the panicked cackle of the Mad Hatter, sees the lonely cottages of the Brothers Grimm, yet the timelessness within each piece is nothing if not original. Again, a reflection from the artist onto the world around him. We see things that could only have been hatched in the artist’s imagination interacting with additions from the modern world, and connections materialize.

Many aspects of Ronchi’s paintings and drawings are heavily metaphorical. From their titles (“Selfish”, “The Trafficker”), to their premeditated nature, every element of every scene has a purpose. Without that unassuming eyeball, or petal, or clasp of the hands, the story is not complete, and perhaps that’s what drives a viewer to analyze and question and wonder; three things I found myself doing at each piece.

Stefano paints mostly in acrylic, and his illustrations are done in pencil. His tools, like his methods, are not complicated, but the results suggest otherwise. The images are animated, hyperbolic and dynamic. Everything has a breath of life. Even the ominous elements such as bleaching bones, crossed eyes, and the like, are alive and contributing to the mad carousel. Some of his compositions are fairytale-like and fantastical, while others are more contemporary. It’s interesting how, despite the variance in theme and message, every one of Stefano’s pieces is classic in its passion for humanity, with all its ills and all its thrills.

Expanding the sheer concept of narrative, Stefano Ronchi and his impeccably steady hand immortalize visions of the supernatural as seen through a purely human lens. When put together, his images are like a storybook for the restless soul, eager to swallow you whole and let you live, just for a little while, inside the impossible.


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