Artist Statement – Efrain Palermo


My art form combines woodworking, bas-relief sculpture and oil painting to create an eye-catching, visual and tactile experience. I have worked for many years developing my technique of carving on plaster of Paris and then doing an oil painting on the sculpted ‘canvas.’ When I combined it with curved wood frames, it sparked a new vein of art expression for me. The laminated bentwood frames impart organic energy into the pieces.
My process begins with an outline drawing for the frame. Then I glue and clamp 1/8” strips of steamed plywood together until they reach an inch or more in thickness. After sanding, the bent wood is stained and used as a template to cut out a backing of ½” plywood. After the back is adhered to the frame, the piece is filled with plaster of Paris. After the plaster is set, I look at the overall shape from different angles and get a sense of what subliminal or symbolic images come up and use that suggested imagery to guide the rest of the art.
After I do the sculpture, the plaster is impregnated with shellac to harden the surface before I apply gesso. The curvy frame adds a dimension that creates latent impressions…somewhat like a Rorschach inkblot. I use a bright, colorful palette to add more energy to my pieces.
The works of surrealist Salvador Dali in part influenced the philosophy of my art style, especially his concept of double vision - tricking the eye into seeing more than one image. I want my art to tickle the viewer’s imagination by sculpting and then painting my ideas over that surface to either enhance or mask the underlying 3D aspects.
Traditional rectangular canvases use a grid to find the four areas to paint the points of interest. In a curved frame, however, the interest points are more fluid and I take advantage of that to create a piece with a lot of ‘motion’ - the eye travels around until the sum of the parts add up to the overall effect. Most artists pick out a frame after they had finished the painting; I make my frames a part of the art. My process is very synergistic - when I create my pieces, I start from the ‘outside in’ and let the curves of the frame dictate the flow of the sculpture, which in turn affects how I will paint it. My creative process is very stream-of-consciousness…I have a general idea of what I want to do before I start, but once I begin working, the flow of the piece takes over.
The themes of some my pieces include another interest of mine - science. One of these biological pieces is my ‘Mitotic Bliss’ sculpted to resemble a cell during mitosis (cell division) and then painted to resemble an abstract face. I am excited about incorporating science, metaphysics and other interests – they are opening up a  new path of opportunities for this art style.

"The Face on Venus"

"Infinite Loops"

"Embryonic Dreams"

31" x 19" x 1.5"


A small piece I did that featured a sand dollar.

Work in progress - giant amoeba frame - 60" high

An earlier sculpted oil in a rectangular frame

Palermoproject home page

Other Palermo Art....

Completed "Mitotic Bliss"

32" x 40" x 1.25"

Click for full size image and the story behind the painting



"Fibonacci's Smile"

37" x 39" x 1.5"

Booth shot of my current work to date (Feb. 2018)

"Gravitational Waves"