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50 years of research
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“True art is not just a craft - it’s a form of life, a projection of the soul, through which the artist aspires to get closer to the spirit of the world.” - Catalino

Paintings in vibrant, luminous colours, with texture and relief, using Renaissance Sgraffito, genuine Fresco, and coloured historic mortar – this is Catalino’s unique technique, the successful result of decades of arduous and often lonely research and experimentation.

Catalino studied in the prestigious post-WWII Eastern European art education system since the age of 9. At the renowned Nicolae Tonitza Art High School in Bucharest, Romania, his teachers were already telling him that he „has a colour palette that would be the envy of many an established artist.” He went on to study Monumental Art Techniques and Industrial and Interior Design at the Bucharest National University of Arts. Only three years after graduating, he joined, through juried admission, the elite Romanian Professional Artists’ Society, of which he continues to be a member. During the first 10 years of his career, he created ten large murals, totalling over 900 sq m, for public spaces, both indoor and outdoor, in various resorts and cities in Romania. Seven of these works were traditional Sgraffito murals, figurative, non-figurative and abstract.

Catalino moved to Canada in 1989. In Europe, mural artists have always used specialized art plasterer teams to prepare and apply the material, while the artist focused on the composition and execution. This is also how the mural art techniques were taught in art universities - but this support system was not available in North America, and Catalino had to learn to prepare and apply the mortar layers himself. This was a watershed moment, as it allowed Catalino to understand that the material had huge, not yet explored potential.

This discovery became Catalino’s life’s work. After decades of research and experimentation, he feels he has achieved his mission as an artist, having transformed coloured historic mortar into a complex art medium — reviving a largely forgotten Renaissance technique and taking it much further. From a rather rigid range of applications, coloured mortar is now open to endless possibilities of aesthetic expression and can be successfully applied on a variety of support surfaces including any type of visual art work, of any scale and style, using an unlimited colour palette, range of textures, and absolute freedom of design. This profoundly professional approach has resulted in the evolution of this core medium, which now stands as a distinct addition to the history of art. As Catalino’s late friend Ioan Buliga, former restoration master at Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum, said: “Catalino’s art is a living artifact. He is one of the remaining masters from a different era.”

Catalino’s art idols are the Dutch Golden Age masters: Rembrandt, Vermeer and Frans Hals, and in his work he strives to maintain the artistic engagement, intensity, and purity which characterized their masterpieces; there is not a day that goes by without him studying them.

Catalino’s paintings are upbeat, full of warmth, and have a special, magical air - like portals to a spiritual space, which is what Catalino believes every art work should be. And just like the Old Masters, everything in Catalino’s art pieces, not just the composition itself, is unique: from the art support to the materials used and to how they are applied. Thanks to his palette, style, and technique, each one is irreproducible.

He makes the plywood panels himself and he prepares from scratch the colours on his rich palette, customized for each artwork, using just a handful of natural pigments. He also prepares the mortar himself from the base ingredients, every layer following a different recipe, precisely timed in relation to the degree of curing of the mortar and the intended colour, texture and design. Working with historic mortar using this technique is very challenging and requires effort, patience, dedication and the decades of experience. Catalino believes the result is aesthetically richer than when using any other art medium.

During his over three decades in Canada, Catalino has created 9 large murals (Canada: Toronto, Vaughan; US: Henniker, NH; Madison, NJ; Romania: Mangalia, Bucharest, Sibiu) and over 200 Sgraffito and fresco paintings, many as commissioned art for collections in Canada, US, and Europe.