A recent exhibit in Toronto showcased the extraordinary talent and humanistic wisdom of Johny Deluna. This Toronto-based artist gave me an exclusive interview, during which we concentrated on just two of his many thought-provoking canvases.
The Song to the Moon painting is inspired by a lovely song from the opera Rusalka, by Dvorak. It is shown here at the right of the lead photo, with Mr. DeLuna standing between it and another artwork.
“Everything I paint about is largely about human activity,” said DeLuna. “To me this woman hugs the Moon, she can't get enough of it. She almost wants to own it: she has 4 hands to pull the Moon, coaxing it down. But it's an exercise in futility, rather than enjoying it, whereas the cat has his own little Moon in the bowl and is very content. So it is a dichotomy between wanting to enjoy the Moon or possess it.”
I also asked him about Selling the Moon, depicted here. “Every insect, every bird, every tree that disappears: we don't see it directly but it's happening and it's happening so fast we have no way of knowing. We don't even know the stuff that's disappearing because it hasn't been discovered. I think the biggest mass extinction benefit would be for humans to go: everything else would survive quite well.”
DeLuna regards the painting “as a statement about people thoughtlessly doing something. These people have been told 'box up the Moon, and ship it to wherever'. There will be a hole in the sky but we'll patch it up, put a sticker on it. But people have to bear the consequences of ripping the Moon out of the sky. The elephant symbolizes but just humanity but every creature that is going to be affected by our careless, greedy behaviour.”
While his paintings cover a much wider range than the lunar motif, I have concentrated on these due to my own interest in astronomy and art. I recommend looking at his wider catalogue of paintings, each of which contains hidden delights.