Have you ever heard artists claim to put their blood, sweat and tears into their work? Well they do by virtue of the time and energy they put into their work, but Vincent Castiglia means it: he paints with his own blood.

Vincent Castiglia was born April 8, 1982 in Brooklyn, New York. He is internationally acclaimed for his figurative paintings with metaphysical and often nightmarish subject matters. Castiglia paints exclusively in human blood, which contains iron oxide, on paper.

The New York painter has a new exhibit, “Resurrection,” in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood that opened on Thursday, September 27 and ran through October. It featured a number of Castiglia’s paintings from the last 10 years, all of which were created with his blood.

30 year old Castiglia said in a recent interview that his first experiments with blood were prompted by a “need to connect with my work on the most intimate level.”

He explained the content of blood as the reason why it’s ideal. According to him, human blood contains iron oxide; a pigment found in many traditional paints, and which occurs naturally in iron ore and common rust.

Although some people regard his paintings as creepy, he said the public’s reaction in the past has been overwhelmingly positive.

“My response would be to really take a look at the content of the work, which overshadows what it’s made from, I think,” he said. “In order for something to be a gimmick, it really would have to lack substance.”

“As soon as we begin to exist as organic matter, our material state begins seeking a return to the first state from which it came, on several levels, through life processes. Our particles seem borrowed, as if only for a moment in the breadth of eternity. Our bodies appear, soak up and contain the vital fluid of existence, to give it shape and form, only then to relinquish this substance as to “ring out” the life force from a worn out “flesh-suit” back into the void. As I see it, blood is a sacred creative agent, and through its use in my work I feel that I am connecting on the most direct level with the essence of life,” Castiglia wrote on his website.

Castiglia’s paintings are monochromatic tableaux examining life, death, and the human condition. Dominant work themes include the symbiosis of birth and death, the transience of man, and the pitfalls of mortality. The images themselves, as he sees them, form as crystallizations of Castiglia’s experiences, freed from the psyche. Through his work the viewer is forced into a re-acquaintance with life and urgency that might not otherwise take place. While many surrealists cite fantasy or dreams as their inspiration, Castiglia’s Visionary art is connected to a life story which is highly allegorical.

As decomposition and decay are so much a part of life as birth and growth, one can see this cycle occur in Castiglia’s work. Castiglia’s art confronts the innate fear of these natural phenomena and exposes their reality by the precise rendering of these conventionally intangible facts. Contradiction and struggle give the work a life of its own. His unique visual language is stripped of all but the essential elements.

Some of his works include The Sleep, Gravity, Stings of the Lash, Feeding, The Stare, Multiply Thy Sorrow, The Great Whore

One of his larger, more detailed paintings can take more than three months to complete. His paintings range in price from $950 to $26,000.

The power of the mind is without limits; creativity has no boundaries. But painting with your own blood, uh? Is this just art? (Wikipedia,Reuters, V. Castiglia) 

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