30 miles south of Palermo, Sicily, there’s a small town with the motto Urbs Opulentissima—the richest city. Founded in 1185, Giuliana’s richness is probably more in its hilltop views, its proximity to two nature preserves, and its 16th century church, Santuario of Maria SS. dell’Udienza, with an alabaster statue of the Madonna.
Thinking About Light
Clark Hulings painted multiple Sicilian works from the early 1960s to the 2000s, but this is the only one we know of from this beautiful little place. Sicilian Light in Giuliana is a 20 x 30” oil from 1996. There are classic Hulings elements in this street scene: a somewhat unimpressed white donkey wearing saddle blanket, people going about their daily business, potted flowers, and visual evidence of work: buckets, laundry, an apple crate, and power lines and waterspouts. But here, we’re obviously being directed by the artist to think about the light. It’s pouring in from the top left of the canvas, highlighting the top of the church, and spotlighting the woman on her balcony and the man carrying his blue bag.
Interestingly, Hulings is using light to show us architectural details that we wouldn’t see otherwise. The left wall has an outline of an awning that’s not even in the painting—it’s higher above and casting a distinctive shadow on the scene. There’s also an interesting shadow on the top of cream-colored building on the right: it’s feathered, like a comb, and Hulings clearly had a specific idea of what was casting that shape.
He’s given us many different textures and patinas to absorb here, and characteristically, Hulings has made decisions about which flagstones on the street show detail and which are smoothed over; and where the detail in the stucco walls, terra cotta roof tiles, and wooden doors and shutters are in sharp relief, and where they are softer. It’s all a well-choreographed dance for the eye—that ultimately suggests life’s daily rhythms in a very old city.
This painting is up for auction at Jackson Hole this September 16 & 17th 2022—just a few weeks away from what would have been Clark Hulings’ 100th Birthday. It’s an auspicious time for a lucky collector to take home this piece of the Hulings legacy. Just let us know email@example.com if we can make an introduction to our friends at Jackson Hole.