Dan Angeli does disasters really, really well. Happily his practice is much more about exploring the impact -- physical and aesthetic -- that large-scale disasters and phenomena have on human-made structures and engineering. I was instantly drawn to his intense palette which covers the entire spectrum while maintaining enough control to keep them grounded. Almost entirely abstract, they still suggest the disaster scene as a subject, pulling the eye into and out of color explosions, or sweeping us across the scene with grand gestural movements. They're not dark, but they're not exactly light either, and his alternating between rough and painterly brush strokes within the confines of carefully masked shapes makes for a deliberate and effective exploration of the meeting point between natural disaster and human construction.
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YS: Tell me a bit about your process, or your studio and how you work. How do you get started on a painting?
DA: I usually look for images that have some tensions between man made and natural phenomena. Sometimes it will be just poring through images until something catches my eye. I usually make a couple of loose sketches and then begin with the painting. I start with the painting on the ground and apply paint liberally. While its still wet, I drag clumps around with hand made trowels, usually cardboard. The rest is simply carving out the painting to give a similar emotional impact to what I saw in the image and less on the details of the original source image.
How long does it take you to complete a piece normally?
Anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months. If I am consistently in the studio I work much faster.
How much time do you spend in the studio every day?
My studio schedule is normally Monday-Thursday. I shoot for 6 hour sessions. I work in the wedding industry so typically Friday-Sunday I am working at a wedding.
What does your studio look like?
I converted my garage into a studio about a year ago. It was originally a dark dingy space but with a couple of skylights it's pretty luminous.
Who or what are some your major influences?
I like to collide the natural and the constructed. Fiscli and Weiss' The Way Things Go, Gericault's The Raft of the Medusa, John Lautner's buildings, Bierstadt, Cubism, Futurism, and Terminator 2 (which at age 12 was the first visual I had of an apocalyptic scenario), my Grandfather's stories from WWII, and Rubens.
If there was anyone, living or dead, who you could meet for coffee or a beer, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Herman Melville, the beauty and horror of maritime travel.
Your paintings remind me of abstracted exploded diagrams; where do you get your inspiration for your images?
I look at and research different disasters, both man made and natural. I am fascinated by how something which was once perfectly engineered can become warped and mangled. Examples that I have used as source material are The Molasses disaster, Halifax explosion, the shipwreck of Andrea Doria, the Titanic, Hurricane's Sandy, Haiyan, and Katrina.
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being an artist (creatively, professionally, etc.)?
Finding enough time to feed the work is a constant struggle and on top of it, balancing the business side of being an artist.
What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment or success so far?
I was part of a two person show this past January at The Catskill Art Society in Livingston Manor, NY
What was your art education like? Do you feel that it has served you well, and/or would you have done anything differently?
I feel very fortunate to have worked with some incredible artists at UW-Madison as an undergrad and The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for my MFA. While I really gained a lot from my MFA due to the faculty and fellow students, the student loans from a private art school were far more crippling than I anticipated.
Is there anything you know now that you wish you would have known when you first began painting or studying art?
The more you fail, the more risks you take, the better off you'll be.
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Angeli has a show upcoming at The South Huntington Library in Long Island this December. Find more images of his work as well as more information at danangeli.com.