Anthony Tremmaglia is an artist, educator, and illustrator — including for Ottawa Magazine. His first exhibition, Hard to Find, is on now the Ottawa Art Gallery. The series of acrylic and charcoal paintings chronicle the existential question: “How did all this come to be?” The exhibition runs until February 17.
Tremmaglia explores love, loss, and jealousy in seven works imbued with layer upon layer of symbolism. To understand his process, and get some insight into his use of symbolism, we asked Tremmaglia about some of the illustrations he’s done for us over the years.
— Illustration for Short Story Contest Winner, Karen Zunder, 2016
“What I got from it was simply blinded by love; that’s what kept coming to mind. With each of my illustrations I try to use symbols that are immediate. So in this one you have the character showing up at the hotel door and to get across the idea of blinded by love, leaves cover her face.” Tremmaglia juxtaposes what she’s covering up with what “the surprise of what her lover was covering up — his cheating. Colour also plays a role with hues of red for passion and anticipation.”
— Illustration for feature article by David Meffe, 2014
“This piece was a challenge because I did not directly want [it] to say ‘death from the drug’, but at the same time I wanted to imply the negative connotations of taking the drug [MDMA] and a worst outcome. I ended up conveying the idea of showing a perceived illusion of taking the drug: both dancing and being caught up in the moment with someone in ecstasy…
“The black space all around is to infer the place you go when high — the stars. At the same time I played with the negative: the characters are distilled in what looks to be a raw piece of the drug in its primitive state. This may imply death if it is taken to the extreme or adversely something goes wrong.”
— Illustration for article about author Nadine McInnis’s short story, The Men Have Gone Hunting, which is part of a collection, Blood Secrets. The short story was shortlisted for an Ottawa Book Award in 2012
“There are times you come across favourites. This was one of them . The overall idea I got from this story, was the tension and agony of the character,” in particular, Tremmaglia notes, the protagonist’s isolation. “I used her as the house against vast space, and limited colour. [At the same time it] suggests power and strength because of the size.”
“To translate the idea of her feeling terror, I had her retreat to the basement with a fearful expression. Finally, what happened by chance – and which helps to add suspense – was a last minute idea of propping up the gun against her neck — I think this little addition makes the piece … you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen!”
— Illustration for feature article by Brielle Morgan, 2015
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— Illustration for feature article by Ron Corbett, 2013