An Expressionist without angst, Chuck Connelly paints with infectious exuberance. Mr. Connelly has a penchant for wild allegorical narratives, and there's a fine example in this exhibition, a picture of Noah's Ark breaking up in a storm with little animals spilling out everywhere, reflecting, perhaps, on the catastrophic events of last year. But the best parts of the exhibition are pictures having to do with the artist's recent move to Philadelphia. In these, headlong painterly urgency animates the homey facts of his new neighborhood: Victorian houses, jumbled backyards, verdant foliage and explosive flowers. A suite of four canvases extending over 20 feet across the wall, each filled edge to edge with leaves, vines, grass and weeds, is like a conference call among van Gogh, Soutine and Pollock. read more >>
Tucked away in a charming neighborhood north of Philadelphia, far from the madding crowds and the elite art world of New York City, a small and therefore unlikely Gallery will showcase the work of legendary artist Chuck Connelly. Connelly chose Joseph Borrelli's Chestnut Hill Gallery to debut his new body of work because he admires Borrelli, whose open, unpretentious attitude and uncanny ability to curate encourages true freedom of expression rather than the more commercialized tone that sometimes dominates the art world.
The show, titled New Frequency opens October 8 and runs through October 31 and will also showcase two long-time Connelly friends: Ted Victoria and Mark Glista, whose works complement the vision. Much of Connelly's work focuses on images of waves or strokes across the canvas repeated horizontally, forming a random rhythm that can refer to emotion, energy, progress, time, sound, light, or speed. Undulating lines and patterns of energy have run through great art throughout the centuries, and it was Connelly's desire to bring this idea through as the subject of the work rather than in a subliminal, subconscious context.
Connelly will also include his new silhouette paintings, which represent people who have passed on and energies that have disappeared; and a collection of bird portraits meant to represent the spirits of another world, among other works. A simple three-dimensional spiral by Glista and surreal light sculptures that question what is real and what is not by Victoria harmonize with this fascinating concept.
Frequency is a natural theme for Connelly, whose own life could be seen as a line that goes up and down from the highs of his fame in the decadent eighties to the lows of the deep and destructive alcoholism that followed. After 17 years of concentrated and self-imposed isolation, he became sober in 2010 and has remained so. The work of Mr. Connelly, whose peers included Julian Schnabel and Jean-Michel Basquiat, has grown even more intense and personal after so many years of reevaluation, and this show ushers in a new sense of redemption and forgiveness.
Chuck Connelly's career took off in the early 1980s while living in Germany. He had two famous patrons - Dr. Robert Atkins of diet fame, and Michael Werner, a legendary German art dealer. Connelly was immortalized by director Martin Scorsese in the film New York Stories, and sensationalized in an HBO documentary, The Art of Failure, Chuck Connelly: Not for Sale. The artist was a maverick, though, and despite his rapid trajectory he clashed with the powerful players in the art world. He lived by his quixotic belief that the art should be the star - rather than the commercial value of the art - and he soon found himself an outsider.
Connelly's solo exhibitions have included The Andy Warhol Museum, the Annina Nosei, Lennon/Weinberg and DFN Galleries in NYC, the Galerie L'Enfant in D.C., among others. His work is in the public collections of the Broad Family Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and others as well as in the private collections of celebrities including Nick Nolte and Kevin Dillon.
New Frequency is dedicated to the memory of Connelly's friend, Dean Buck, whose eccentric fascination with optical illusions and the subconscious mind have guided the artist's view of the unknown; and also honors those who have gone before.
A foundation is being formed that will honor, protect, and preserve Mr. Connelly's vast body of work, and will contribute to art education in the future. New Frequency opens October 8 at Borrelli's Chestnut Hill Gallery at One East Gravers Lane in Philadelphia, with an artists' reception from 6 - 8 pm. The show runs through October 31. To learn more about the show call Joe Borrelli at 215-248-2549 or visit ChestnutHillGallery.com.
The Children of Sandy Hook, 2013, 10ft X 12ft
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