The unique and intriguing oil paintings of Cliff Finity draw upon an unusual blend of influences, ranging from early experiences in the American wilderness of his youth, to Renaissance and Surrealist art, and moving through the ever-changing flow of technology in his lifetime. These influences have led to a dreamlike and richly realized world inhabited by creations of humanity unexpectedly interacting with creatures and scenes from the natural world, and containing a multi-layered symbology of memory, language, and time; adaptation and transformation; puzzles and games — all metaphors for the myriad elements that make up the shared endeavor of life.
Cliff Finity was born in 1954 a couple of miles from John Muir’s grave, in the lap of Mount Diablo, roughly 20 miles from San Francisco, California. In his youth he roamed the California foothills, camping out for long periods in nearby woods and on ocean beaches. He took extended backpacking trips into the American wilderness whenever possible, and continues to take inspiration from the natural surroundings of his current home near the Verde River in northern Arizona.
As a young man he explored the galleries and museums of San Francisco, studying the lithographs of M.C. Escher and works of the High Renaissance, as well as such Surrealist painters as DeChirico, Magritte, Delvaux, Dali, Sage, Tanning and Varo, pioneers in Veristic Surrealism, a branch of surrealism committed to a high degree of technical mastery. He has also travelled to Italy to view the works of the Italian Renaissance masters first hand, and to Spain to visit the home of Salvador Dali and the Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres.
He is self-taught in classical academic painting techniques, using oil on Belgian linen canvas or museum quality panels, and by the age of 18 he was stretching his own canvas and painting in oils. His first one man show was in 1972 at the Vesuvio Bar, adjacent to City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.
His paintings follow in the Veristic Surrealist tradition of flat glossy surfaces depicting subconscious images of nature and technology, and while described as “Surrealistic” this kind of imaginary representational painting predates written history.
As Finity states: “My work is concerned with imaginary realism with Darwinian overtones; man-made, usually obsolete objects embedded in natural settings.”
His work has been shown through-out the West Coast and Arizona; and is represented in collections around the world, from New York City to Florence, Italy.