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Christopher Volpe paints at the border of representation and abstraction. Though rooted in landscape, his atmospheric paintings combine the traditional and the contemporary to express intangible feelings and ideas.
Having earned a graduate degree in poetry from the University of New Hampshire, he wrote professionally and taught American literature, writing, and art history until discovering and embracing painting for its immediate potential to express deeply embedded individual and universal experiences of reality. Christopher exhibits his work in galleries, alternative art spaces, and museums throughout the northeast.He has been featured in Artscope magazine and Art New England and has received grants and awards from MassMoCA, the St. Botolph Club Foundation, and the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. He teaches classes and workshops out of his studio in Lowell, Mass. and at Montserrat College of Art and Castle Hill Center for the Arts and conducts workshops throughout New England and abroad. Raised in Oyster Bay, Long Island, he now lives with his wife and son in Hollis, New Hampshire.
He is a writer for Art New England and has taught at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, Chester College of New England, Franklin Pierce University, and the University of New Hampshire.
Non-narrative bits of urban and suburban landscape - rain on pavement, headlights in fog, vague architectural forms in the dark: this series of oil paintings is about moody, indeterminate images for uncertain times.
Patricia Ladd Carega Gallery in Center Sandwich, N.H. (Squam Lakes region) will be showing Stills from an Unknown Film alongside abstract paintings by Cameron Byron Roberts in a two-person show opening August 1 that we're calling Tenebras Lux (Light from Darkness). The title is a variation on the Latin phrase "post tenebras lux,” a variation on "After darkness, I hope for light," which appears in Job 17:12.
I’ve always been a fan of tonalism; it’s the painting of mystery and mysticism. I’m still painting from the same place as when I started and using basically the same techniques. (The most “poetic” landscape painting of the last two centuries is often considered “Tonalist” because it forces the artist to load the emotion into subtle muted color harmonies and expressive brushwork.) I’ve wanted it to express something different than the 19th century Tonalists were after, something darker and more relevant to our time.
For me, these paintings follow logically from my previous series called Loomings, which referenced Moby-Dick. The "Stills" replace the metaphoric iconography of an ill-fated 19th century whaling voyage with isolated, peripheral images from the borders of our lives.
I hope this work conveys a sense of pensiveness and uncertainty, but one that's balanced by faith in the beauty of our world, a faith I think we need to hold on to more than ever.