The concept which lead to the creation of The Ministry of Love sprang from my desire to create a landscape - a place which, to the viewer, seemed unquestionably real but was, in fact, completely invented. To me, this was the ultimate expression of the kind of realism I wanted to create - a brand of realism that was nothing more than a lie.
In June of 1998, I gathered up all the landscape drawings I'd made over the years. I had drawings of hills in California... trees from Pennsylvania and so on... and simply mixed them together into an entirely new landscape - one that existed only in my artwork.


The Ministry of Love, part I, graphite on paper, 14 x 17 in. (35 x 43 cm.), June, 1998.

At that time, I'd made it a habit to create something new or come up with some concept and then stash it away for a while. This was what I did with The Border and I did the same with The Ministry of Love.
The idea rested at the back of my mind - it ripened and rotted there - until, finally, in April of 2003, I started my first painting of The Ministry of Love. The process was straight forward enough though I'd edited the imagery down considerably from those earlier sketches.


The Ministry of Love, part III
Oil on panel, 27 x 48 in. (69 x 122 cm.)
April - May, 2003
Private Collection, Philadelphia, PA

The result was an image which I found to be very beautiful but also intensely mysterious. To me, the painting seemed to be realistic and artificial all at once. Beyond that, there was a powerful sense of foreboding present and I decided I needed to continue painting along this theme.


The Ministry of Love, part IV
Oil on panel, 24 x 78 in. (61 x 198 cm.)
July - September, 2003
Private Collection, Philadelphia, PA

I began working on The Ministry of Love (part IV) just a few weeks after its predecessor was completed. This version depicts the very same three trees but from the reverse angle. I had imagined myself walking through this landscape... over the hill and looking back at those three trees.


Detail of The Ministry of Love, part IV.

In the distance, there is a flock of crows. I painted something like sixty or seventy of them skimming over this landscape.

The Ministry of Love (part IV) was a major step for me in that I'd started to see this place in three dimensions... as a living, breathing space... something that was real and no longer an invention of my imagination.
I began to consider developing an entire world around these three trees on a hill. I wanted to take the viewer on a tour all around them... to convey the scope of the place as well as the finest details - individual blades of grass, the branches and leaves of the trees. I wanted to create the sense that this was a place I'd been... a place where I'd made sketch after sketch or simply spent many afternoons day dreaming. Yet, the reality would be that none of it exists. Everything would need to be invented and grounded in a kind of visual logic if the lie would be believed.


Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree
Oil on panel, 32 x 48 in. (81 x 122 cm.)
March - May, 2004
Private Collection, San Francisco, CA

Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree was the first of these paintings which depicted one of the three trees on a hill in detail. Several months later, I painted Read Me to Sleep.

- Francis Gregory Di Fronzo, 2005

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Francis Gregory Di Fronzo.
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