John DiPaolo

Light After Darkness
December 2, 2021 — January 29, 2022

Opening Reception: Thursday, December 2, 5:30-7:30 PM

Indigenous, 2021 | Oil on canvas | 46 x 54 inches
Indigenous, 2021 | Oil on canvas | 46 x 54 inches

Dolby Chadwick Gallery is pleased to present Light After Darkness, a solo show of new paintings by John DiPaolo.

DiPaolo’s recent paintings are quintessentially natural, both in their connection to the earth and their innate and honest humanity. The humanity of the need to create, a compulsion rather than a will; the humanity of movement as an externalization of impulse rather than decision: These are first degree, body to canvas interactions, free from the interference of thought. DiPaolo’s work embraces the animalism of being human.

John's work is inherently physical. An exercise in embodiment takes place when the viewer meets the canvas. His paintings are "life size," something you can drop into, something that occupies your field of vision when you stand face to face with it. In observing the layers of paint on the canvas, one is compelled to mimic the brushstrokes in their head, this one going left, the next a palimpsest over it to the right, understanding the movement and breaking down the chaos into discrete motions. Before any theory can precipitate, the viewer is grounded in the universality of the physical.

The work, while two-dimensional, expands into space from all directions. This explosive quality is rooted in DiPaolo’s understanding of the work as an independent, energetic entity. For John, the painting is an animate object, intuiting his motion, asking for more. As John describes, “The painting will dictate what it needs.”

The painting gives, and the painting demands.

The painting, in its anthropomorphic directness, welcomes the viewer into a reflection of their own human necessity. In this way, each new piece develops the playful dichotomy of impulse and control, of light and dark.

DiPaolo plays with new composition in Peripheral Vision, Night Light, and The Light Surrounding Us, adding bands of color at the top and bottom of the canvas. There is an attempt to contain the energy so iconic of his work, limiting the field of motion with the stark contrast of solidity. This containment does not limit this energy, but rather increases it, a compression chamber speeding up the movement of particles.

The paintings evoke jazz in these compositions of freedom and underlying structure. Through the chaos, there is order that reveals itself in moments and disappears, a subtle reminder of the technicality of the art. Almost like Coltrane, DiPaolo goes way out there just to bring it back. He embraces disorder, adventurous melodies that escape the beat, and wrangles it in back to harmony.

In this same musical way, DiPaolo’s work harkens back to the essential truth of light and dark. DiPaolo strips these dichotomies of connotation and isolates a certain honesty. In his work, light and dark converse and conflate. Light runs into dark, dark covers light — it is not a question of competition but of one necessitating the other. He distills thousands of years of theorizing, returning to an early human understanding, appreciation, and commune with nature and what is natural.

In his newest Revolver diptych, this marriage of opposites becomes quite clear. Nothing originated in the light is unanswered in the dark, and vice versa. In fact, it is difficult to say if anything is originated on one side at all — every stroke feels like a continuation. A dance takes place between the panels, a sway between light and dark, almost like strokes of paint hold hands on the center line.

The painting animates, motion pulsing through the surface. We return to this essence of humanity in the work, a movement raw and unfiltered by judgement. Again, we are reminded that the painting will ask for what it needs. It is only a matter of listening.

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.