Piece of the Week: Mario Sughi’s Friends, Ice Cream for the Eyes


In Friends, a digital print by Mario Sughi (also known as Nerosunero), the colors are like an ice cream social for the eyes.

The print is set on strawberry dunes against a black raspberry sea. There is the Neapolitan towel, the cookie monster jeans, and the lemon custard dress. The image’s visual experience is a summer trip to the ice cream parlor at the end of a childhood beach day. The juxtaposition of each hue is like the fleeting, lifted up glimpses at the giant tubs of flavors – a scoopable color empire – encased in glass.

And, like a well-crafted sundae, “it has a bit of everything,” says Sughi.

Sughi taps into variety through more than just his color palate. His inspiration and references come from a variety of sources and styles; these styles include, David Hockney, Alex Katz, Kerry James Marshall, and Georges Seurat.

Friends’ relationship to Seurat’s Pointillism masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte (1884), offers particularly interesting commentary on the commonalities of leisure.

In many aspects –objects, medium, attire, style, color – Sughi’s print is distinctly “of today” when compared to Seurat’s painting. And yet, there is something grammatically similar about the two works.

The objects in the two pieces are different: Sughi’s figures shade themselves with sunglasses and floppy hats where Seurat’s figures escape the sun under parasols and top hats and, undoubtedly, the cell phones and soda cans sprinkled through Friends would be decidedly anachronistic.

Yet, there is something common between them.

The figures in both talk, enjoy the waterside, play in the water, and spend time with family.

“It relates to a mix of cultures, of moments of our life (at home and abroad), it opens up to a variety of feelings,” Sughi says.

While their bags are packed with different things, people still enjoy many of the same things they did nearly two centuries ago.

“[Friends is] a very simple and, yet, quite complicate piece of work – both in technique and concept,” says the artist, “it is modern, stylish, fresh, classic and different.”

He describes visual art as combining elements and distinguishing the lines between of fine art and illustration, painting and printmaking, and dreams and reality.

See more of Mario Sughi’s work on UGallery