Richard Castellana: This and That

March 25 – April 19, 2014

Blue Mountain Gallery presents This and That, recent paintings by artist Richard Castellana.  The exhibition features more than a dozen works depicting still lifes, cityscapes, and landscapes, all replete with his innate eye for color and light.

Although Castellana’s painting style and themes vary, he maintains his signature touch—thus the title of the show, This and That.   Initially working from observation, his paintings develop through invented form, memory, and imagination.  While the influence of Bonnard, Matisse, Morandi, and Mondrian can be detected, Castellana’s practice is mainly a meditation on light and color; painting what is and is not there.

His convincing nature motif switches from still lifes of fruit and plants to sunset dappled cityscapes ripe with various outdoor floras.  Throughout the exhibition the viewer tours the city of New York through the eyes of the painter, from the dimly lit interiors to the overgrown gullies of parks and crowded subways; it is a contemplative journey, indoors and out, through the eyes of the artist.  In some particularly fascinating moments the viewer stands in partial landscape, where we gaze into an outdoor scene from the interior of the artist’s studio, whose elements are barely detectable.   These partial landscapes act as a middle point, not just conceptually in the paintings but also in the exhibition as it repeatedly transitions the viewer between the public and private dichotomies Castellana is constantly dissecting in his work.

Castellana’s background has covered everything from biology to the humanities and economics.  He received an A.B. in Biology from Harvard College and a Ph.D from the New School for Social Research in the study of Political Economy.  Between 1964-1968, Castellana studied at the Art Students League, New York Studio School, and Queens College where he worked with artists Edwin Dickinson, Charles Cajori, Mercedes Matter, Esteban Vicente, and Louis Finkelstein.  Since 1986, he has taught everything from art, economics, consciousness studies, and globalization at Fairleigh Dickinson University.  Castellana recently retired as director of the B. A. in Interdisciplinary Studies program and Professor of Humanities and Fine Arts.   Since the 1970’s he has exhibited widely and received national and international recognition and awards for his work.  Castellana’s work is included in numerous collections and his exhibitions have been reviewed in local NYC papers as well as the international, multi-lingual art magazine, Next, published in Rome, Italy.  Castellana is a former member and director of the Bowery Gallery and long-time supporter of the artist-run scene in New York City.  This is his first solo exhibition at Blue Mountain Gallery.