Reviews and Blurbs
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
By Edward J. Sozanski
Off the turnip truck. Nick D’Angelo didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. In his lexicon, that means he’s not stupid. It also means he believes that trucks carrying turnips spread stupidity. If they do, why do his paintings seem so adorable?
There are five turnip truck paintings in D’Angelo’s exhibition at the Rodger LaPelle Galleries, along with other equally wry images that tweak American culture and it’s populist icons.
For instance, A Few Bricks Shy refers to the folk saying that describes dim- witted people. The painting is like most of tose in the show, a still-life – of a trowel and three bricks, one of which is a little short of fullness.
Initially, one doesn’t notice D’Angelo’s oils for their content but for their precise rendering and near-monochrome look. Each includes one brightly colored element that jumps out of the frame as if on springs.
One wonders, is gypsum whiteness just a gimmick, or symbolic of some deeper meaning? Eventually I gave up looking for gnomic insights. The paintings are imaginative and amusing. If the monochrome is a gimmick, it succeeds.
THE KENNETT PAPER
Nick D’Angelo offers a world of monster turnips
By R.B. Strauss
Plenty of artists claim to offer something just this side of solipsism. And then there are those artists who do much more than claim. For a good example of the latter, you have a couple more days to trek up to Rodger LaPelle Galleries, 122 N Third St. in historic Old City Philadelphia and check out “Paintings Achromic IV: Return of the Turnip Truck” by Nick D’Angelo through Oct. 31.
On view is a sequence of work that reflects the somewhat obtuse title. The achromic impulse finds this painter offering work that boasts white on white designs, though with a singular bit of color.
One of the titular sequence, “Turnip Truck ( Ninth Version )” finds a blank world invaded by a mutant turnip that suggests the pods from that paranoid science fiction classic “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. This crucial image, in that the truck has passed a midway point, topping a hill and now moving down into uncharted territory.
The ivory of the turnip’s lower half is in contrast to the stark white of the rest of D’Angelo’s realm. There is no notion of speed here; the truck could be nearly stationary or might well be fast approaching 100 miles an hour, while what is there beyond the fence flanking the road is another whole mystery.
The lone concession to a pure aesthetic mix and match that leaves a somewhat ominous atmosphere over the painting’s proceedings is embodied in “Short Stack.” Here, the element that D’Angelo has deigned to “colorize” is a short stack of pancakes.
Now, of course, it would be most natural for them to be resting ready to consume on a white plate; however, what about the pat of butter that is drained of any tinge of yellow, while motioning something of a shadow on one side? This is most passing strange, especially as the thing has already begun to melt, spilling its seeming taint over some decent looking flapjacks.
If action’s what you want, then you’ve got it in “Turnip Truck ( Eleventh Version ).” Here, a police car is pursuing the turnip truck, and it is a most telling painting in that the vehicle giving chase is something out of the 1960s. Curiously, though there was something aged about the turnip truck throughout the sequence, it was still something timeless. Not so here.
One can hear the siren wailing, and, indeed, some gigantic turnips have been jarred loose from the truck bed, hurtling back. One can assume that the authorities will surmount these vegetables flying in their direction, but one is left with a couple questions. What is going on here? Are the turnips contraband?
Form doesn’t necessarily follow function in ”A Few Bricks Shy,” in my opinion, not just the best still life in the show, but one of the best still life paintings by any painter in the region in a good long while.
On the left of the piece, one brick leans atop another, both of them snow white. Adjacent, a brick rendered in full color is placed at another angle while in front of it rests a white trowel. The economy, balance and lighting that D’Angelo affords this excellent painting fast approaches the transcendent, with thus winning details and weathered look of the bricks despite their pristine shade.
You can’t go wrong in getting lost in Nick D’Angelo’s achromic universe.
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
Main Line Art Center
By Victoria Donahue
The juried show featuring six area artists, mostly fresh faces, at Main Line Art Center is an attractive one that should reach out to the general public especially well. This exhibit has more clarity than abundance, more tension than energy, and more grace than sensuality. It’s a sort of expressionistic exhibit with manners.
Nick D’Angelo’s own pictorial manner renders small still-lfe objects in detail. He favors a clean hard edge with sharp separations of light and dark tonalities.
Several pictures are gnomic, even a trifle bizarre.
ALSO REVIEWED: J. ALLEN BENTLEY 2d CHRISTOPHER VECCHIO FRANK ABRUZZESE SUSAN ABRAMS JEFF SCHALLER
UMBRELLA ON THE ARTS
Woodmere Member’s Exhibition well worth a visit
By R.B. Strauss
The number one honor in the form of “The Woodmere Prize” went to Roxborough resident Nick D’Angelo, who offered the oil painting “Still Life with Etch A Sketch.” Whereas many exhibitors don’t boast art careers, D’Angelo is a local mainstay, represented by Rodger LaPelle Galleries in Old City. ( In fact he is featured in a show in October.) Most Pop Art done today is pap., but D’Angelo updates the genre for the new millennium.
His work is invariably well-textured realism done in tones of white, with flashes of color here and there. In the present piece, he offers a still life of fruit on the left that is then transferred on the right via Etch A Sketch, the sole concession to color, the object itself a rich red.
It’s well worth one’s while to make the jaunt over to Woodmere Art Museum and check out what today’s artists have to offer.
ALSO REVIEWED: MARJORIE RUSSELL MARLENE G. PATTERSON JOHN LEAR
Through Nov. 2
Rodger Lapelle Galleries
This painter’s work lies somewhere between pop art and surrealism. The exhibit continues his theme of hyper-realistic but bleached out scenes with a single brightly colored object highlighted. It seems to speak to the way our materialism imbues certain products with a kind of magic, self-affirming power.
CHESTNUT HILL LOCAL
D’ANGELO TO EXHIBIT
Nick D’Angelo, of upper Roxborough, is one of the area’s most accomplished artists. His works have appeared in juried shows at Woodmere Art Museum nine times and annual members shows 10 times. The Philadelphia native has also exhibited at Allens Lane Art Center, Cheltenham Art Center, Main Line Art Center,
Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia Museum of Art and dozens more. He currently has a solo exhibit through October 31 at the Rodger LaPelle Galleries.
“101 Artists” Selections from the Fred Danziger Collection
of Contemporary Art
"Nick D'Angelo has created a unique, very identifiable style of often humorous still life works in a limited palette. He showed with me at Lapelle in Philadelphia for many years and kept evolving his palette and subject matter.
Nick is full of surprises, and is flat out a terrific painter! " – Fred Danziger
"Who among us has not fallen off the Turnip Truck let them cast the 1st stone." – Whoopi Goldberg
Nick D'Angelo: an instantly recognizable style.
Each of the 7 artists in the show I put together for Gallery222 in Malvern are personal favorites of mine. I'd like to highlight each of them with only ONE of their pieces from the show during this week. Perhaps you will find some interest in these brief thoughts.
I met Nick D'Angelo when he was a student in my classes at The Art Institute of Philadelphia. He was on a path to being a graphic designer, but it was clear that being a fine artist was much more his destination.
He kept studying painting and eventually, he became one of the most consistent exhibitors at Rodger Lapelle Galleries, where I also showed. His interests were in the surreal, and a sense of ambiguity, sprinkled with visual puns and humor.
Initially his work was done with a full color palette, but at one point, he "minimalized" and all his paintings were done in shades of white, as if formed from porcelain.
He explored that for a number of years and slowly reintroduced color in sections of the paintings, creating a dramatic contrast.
In Nick's work there are echoes of Rene Magritte, especially, but he never suspends the rules of physics, so there is more a sense of "altered reality" as opposed to sur-reality.
Nick has dedicated himself to painting with intelligence as well as masterful painting skills. I even like the BACK of his canvases, where he often notes the music he listened to while doing that particular painting, as well as information on the ideas involved.
This particular piece, "The Unfinished Painting" is a great example of his imaginative ideas. What is under the sheet? Why is the painting unfinished?- but wait- it IS finished- the subject is OF the unfinished...so he lets us jump back one level, showing a "painting within a painting, and letting us pause and wonder at the meaning of it all! – Fred Danziger