John DiPaolo

February 4 — 27, 2016

Drifter #4, 2015
Drifter #4, 2015


Dolby Chadwick Gallery is delighted to announce an exhibition of new work by the abstract painter John DiPaolo. On view from Thursday, February 4th, through Saturday, February 27th 2016.

DiPaolo is a San Francisco artist known for his lush surfaces and intense, color-charged canvases. His newest work explodes off the canvas, creating a world that pulls the viewer in to examine the complex physical surface of the painting, to look deeply into the interaction of color and form, to confront the profound energy and emotion barely contained on the canvas.

Working in his studio at Hunter’s Point Shipyard, DiPaolo works on several large canvases at once, moving them around the studio as the current one demands attention. When a painting stops working, it gets banished to the storeroom for a week or two and when it returns to the studio, it starts working – or disappears under new layers of inspiration.

“Sometimes even the ones I love in the very beginning end up getting covered over, but with something that is even better,” DiPaolo says. “So I say to myself, ‘You’ve got to surrender. All you are is some in-between force that’s making this thing happen.’ It’s not about doing it so forcibly. It’s about getting the organic-ness of the material and of my experience with that to come out.”

Installation view, 2016
Installation view, 2016

DiPaolo studied at the San Francisco Art Institute after moving to San Francisco in 1971 from his native Brooklyn. Northern California artists like David Park and Elmer Bischoff were abandoning pure abstraction in favor of figuration by the 1960s. But DiPaolo, influenced by teachers and artists Sam Tchakalian, Julius Hatovsky and Jack Jefferson, left behind the pop art of his 20s and explored abstraction and materiality.

Nearly 45 years later, DiPaolo’s paintings have an energy and vibrancy that continue to challenge and surprise the viewer. 

In Spires…Striker #7 (2015), ideas, colors and emotions crash on the canvas, giving the eye and the mind a thousand stories and moments as the viewer studies different parts of the piece. Three pinnacles rise at the top of the painting, but rather than dominating the composition, they manage to anchor it and at the same time set it free. The vibrant red and intense blue and the green of a dappled forest shade travel across the canvas and create a visual history. The layers and layers of paint, applied with a palette knife to the canvas, sometimes give an insight into what’s underneath and the hidden beauty of paints applied earlier and hidden below.

White Heat … Drifters #5 (2015) has so much energy and forward motion that you half expect to see the paint jump off the canvas and continue across the white walls of the gallery. An electric energy propels the piece, leaving the viewer breathless and eager to discover its secrets. The kinetic slashes of color move and breathe on the canvas, creating a world you want to study and live with. Little discoveries await in the thickly layered paint. A flash of orange vibrates toward the center, while a fragile blue streak recalls a shard of Delft pottery. 

DiPaolo starts out with a white canvas stretching before him, a few spare pencil lines sketching his initial vision of the work. 

“I’ve been working on this size for several years now … So I know this space,” DiPaolo says. “And I have a feeling for this space. I know what I want my painting to approach. That’s why I do the lines.”

Still, it’s never easy, he says. 

“I’ve been doing this for 40 years and it’s still a confront every time you’ve got to start putting paint on,” the artist says. “You’re exposed. There it is. You can’t say, ‘Oh, I didn’t mean that.’ 

DiPaolo was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1946. He earned a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute in 1974 and an MA from San Francisco State University in 1977. DiPaolo exhibits across the United States and his works can be found in renowned public and private collections, such as the Achenbach Collection at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; The San Jose Museum of Art in San Jose, CA; and the Crocker Museum of Art in Sacramento, CA.

Installation view, 2016
Installation view, 2016