A native of Brooklyn, New York, DiPaolo moved to San Francisco in 1971 to attend the San Francisco Art Institute. Though many Northern California artists such as David Park and Elmer Bischoff had largely abandoned pure abstraction in favor of figuration by the 1960s, a strong contingent was still working in the manner of abstract expressionism. Influenced by artists and teachers such as Sam Tchakalian, Julius Hatovsky, and Jack Jefferson, DiPaolo grew interested in exploring abstraction and materiality as a means of expanding the boundaries of his own art practice. Moving beyond the limiting contours of the visible world, DiPaolo saw how abstraction’s raw, elemental architecture could potentially mobilize the type of physical, experiential engagement he sought in his art.
Throughout his career, DiPaolo has endeavored to make art that acts as a prism through which we can reflect upon our own lives. The thoughtful intensity with which he executes his gestures, layers forms, and orchestrates color relations produces an immersive effect that reverberates through the body and awakens an upsurge of memories and emotions. The balance and harmony of his compositions hinge on his ability to maintain some semblance of control while also allowing for the uncontrollable; as he explains, “even when you think you know what you want, it tells you what it wants. The work takes over.” Herein lies the crux of DiPaolo’s paintings: their impact is drawn directly from the act of painting itself. Though they articulate something beyond the experience of just one individual, they can only do so through the willful shepherding of the artist.
This most recent body of work can be seen as the culmination of DiPaolo’s remarkable forty-year quest to uncover the universal—a universal extant within what DiPaolo describes as “the spirit of the painting”—in order to say something personal. In The Skin Within (2011), for example, a luminous, loosely star-shaped configuration pushes out into (or is hemmed in by?) a crowning navy firmament. Within this central mass, blue, yellow, and green paints have been scraped on with a palette knife like “invisible souls” (to borrow from a title of one of his paintings, completed in 2011) dancing in halo of creamy light. The interplay of the oil’s textured sheen against the subtle glossiness of the midnight pools of enamel causes a lambent flickering that directly solicits internalization. This push and pull—this constant negotiation of tension born of difference—hedges a balance and structures an expressive energy unencumbered by resolutions that fasten or fix.The final painting is animated, exultant, alive; it pulls us in, down and through and, in the process, reveals something to us about ourselves.
John DiPaolo: A Forty-Year Retrospective has been published by the Dolby Chadwick Gallery on the occasion of this exhibition. Chronicling important events in DiPaolo’s life and career, this 125- page monograph presents a stunning visual record of paintings made between 1971 and 2012 and includes an essay by famed art historian Peter Selz. It also commemorates John DiPaolo and Lisa Dolby Chadwick’s twenty years of collaboration and friendship. John DiPaolo: A Forty-Year Retrospective will be for sale at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery in late October.
John DiPaolo was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1946. He earned a B.F.A. from San Francisco Art Institute in 1974 followed by a M.A. from San Francisco State University in 1977. In addition to exhibiting across the United States, DiPaolo’s works can be found in renowned private and public collections such as the Achenbach Collection, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA; and the Crocker Museum of Art, Sacramento, CA. This will be DiPaolo’s seventh solo show at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery.