Look, the Mona Lisa’s great, but Leonardo da Vinci got her all wrong.
That’s at least what Melchiorre Martino claims. The 79-year-old Bensonhurst retiree says that he’s improved on da Vinci’s so-called masterpiece because he has one thing that the Renaissance legend lacked: electricity.
“See all these blacks and dark colors in da Vinci’s Mona Lisa?” Martino asked. “It’s because he worked in the dark. If he did it my way, with electric lights in his studio, he would have had more color.”
So Martino spent three weeks with all his lights on and all the oil paints he could find. The result is a far more vivid print, albeit one without any of the background detail over which da Vinci apparently sweated — not that Martino is impressed.
“I don’t need all that [background] stuff,” he said, grinning. “Where was she standing when [da Vinci] painted it? We don’t know — but we do know that he finished part of the painting in one place, and the rest in Paris, so the background doesn’t matter.”
A smudged brown and black backdrop in Martino’s painting attests to that.
The “Martino Lisa” is just the latest instant classic churned out of the painter’s Bay Parkway aerie. He started his craft only 15 years ago — inspired by one of his 12 kids, who has cerebral palsy — with a panting of brontosauruses munching on greenery.
Next he moved to a remake of Pablo Picasso’s “The Dreamer,” and then on to more of his own work, which lines the walls of his small apartment.
He admits that on his first go at the brunette with the famously indifferent gaze, Martino wanted to match da Vinci’s light-free environment. But he wasn’t pleased with his first try.
Now, however, Martino said his new and improved canvas has already garnered attention from buyers — one of whom offered $15,000. But he doesn’t know if he wants to sell it. The goal is just to have people see it.
“This is a treat for the people,” Martino said. “I don’t have much time left, and this is what I love to do, so why not?”
Then he grinned and added, “My mom never knew I could paint. Look at me now!”