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Alumni Studio Visit: Carlo D’Anselmi (MFA 2015)

Carlo in his Studio. Photo by Sophie Fabbri.

Carlo D’Anselmi lives and works in Ridgewood, Queens. He holds an MFA in Painting from The New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting & Sculpture, New York, NY and a BA in Fine Arts from Saint Anselm College, Manchester, NH. 

The artist has an upcoming solo exhibition at Asia Art Center, Taipei, Taiwan. He has had solo exhibitions at Thierry Goldberg Gallery, New York, NY; The Cabin, Los Angeles, CA; and Pamela Salisbury Gallery, Hudson, New York; D’Anselmi has participated in group exhibitions at Thierry Goldberg Gallery, New York, NY, Asia Art Center, Taipei, Taiwan, Kutlesa Gallery, Goldau, Switzerland; The Green Family Art Foundation, Dallas, TX; Eve Leibe Gallery, London, UK; Kravets Wehby Gallery, New York, NY; Monya Rowe Gallery, New York, NY; Galerie Kornfeld, Berlin, Germany; and The Painting Center, New York, NY among others. He is represented by Thierry Goldberg Gallery, New York, NY.

Solo Exhibition “Good Company” at Thierry Goldberg Gallery, 2022.

NYSS: Describe a typical day in studio; walk us through your process.

Carlo D’Anselmi: I try to get to the studio as early as I can. I am a morning painter. I walk 20 minutes to my studio, and I consider this time very important for getting caffeinated and thinking about the things I had left in the studio unfinished the day before. My best work generally happens before lunch. I try to be done for the day before it gets dark outside, and I try to leave a loose end to work on the next day.

My process comes from my imagination and feelings, sometimes using my drawings as source material. I create imagery that is metaphorical of relationships in my life. For me the creative process needs some warming up through the physical process in the studio. After a few days of working regularly, the neural pathways between my hands and my brain connect, and I am able to dig into my imagination to invent or develop new paintings much more easily. 

NYSS: What are you most excited about in your current work?

CD: My subject matter. In my most recent body of work I added new images of archers shooting arrows into the paintings and was able to link them to my personal life. I changed the role of some cats and some fruits which I had been painting for a few years and gave them new romantic purposes. I came up with a new technique to paint sunsets. I am very happy with my new paintings.

Narrative Minds, 2022, oil on canvas, 72 x 60 inches, exhibited at Asia Art Center in 2022.

NYSS: What are some of the questions you ask yourself as you are working?

CD: I ask questions about the meaning of my subject matter and it echoes back and forth in an inner dialogue as the subject matter changes. The main questions are ones that try to reconcile the abstract properties of my paintings with the personal meaning of my narratives. Nagging or funny questions like: Why are you using so much yellow? Does this look too much like Edvard Munch? Who is that person in the painting? Is it you? Why are they here? Is this done yet? Other questions are more practical, like: Shouldn’t you go to that opening tonight? Are you too tired to be painting right now? Why don’t you eat something before painting that face? Do you need to go to the art store?

NYSS: What keeps you motivated/what are you most passionate about?

CD: The people in my life keep me motivated. I am always in contact with my artist friends and often do studio visits to exchange feedback and ideas. I am passionate about love, great art, food, the lives of my friends, my family, my plants, my home, reading, architecture, travelling, living in New York City, Italian culture, and seeing the world in terms of humor. I think the world is a very mysterious and spiritual place.

Carlo’s Studio. Photo by Sophie Fabbri.

NYSS: What do you keep in the studio for inspiration, material or otherwise? Reference material, artist books, sketchbooks, journals, found objects, foods etc… Do you listen to anything while you work? 

CD: I keep a large amount of my sketchbooks at hand, and a few works of art by close friends at hand. Whenever I get “stuck” in a painting, I will either make a drawing from it to re-wire my thoughts, or look at a few sketchbooks of old drawings. By doing this I can usually find an inspiring way to get back on track. When I listen to music I usually like it to be in the background and not too distracting, or a musical artist I know really well. But depending on the mood, silence can sometimes be the perfect companion to painting. 

NYSS: What are the best aspects of studying at the New York Studio School which continue to influence your current studio practice? 

CD: One aspect of the School which has stayed with me the longest has been the reverential attitude towards creating art that surrounds the creative process. NYSS is an ideal space for people trying to explore their personal voice. Visual art is given respect as one of the most important forms of expression. It is nearly impossible to find another place that does this with the same attitude. In the face of the art world’s fleeting attraction to trends and stylistic fashions which change constantly, it is a very needed thing. It is easy to get distracted by hype, and lose one’s way as an artist, and this particular strength of the School has served as a touchstone of something permanent and real for the near decade that has passed since I left.

Solo Exhibition “Good Company” at Thierry Goldberg Gallery, 2022.

NYSS: Who were your favorite teachers at the New York Studio School? Are there aspects of conversations with them that still continue to influence your work? Can you show us specific examples?

CD: My favorite teacher was Graham Nickson. I feel that his method of teaching is bigger than a specific philosophy or technique. He is able to pinpoint clues within the individual way in which an artist works, while at the same time making the artist aware of those things. This allows the artist to push the work further in personal directions relative to their specific skills and interests, until they are able to do it on their own. I think he does something almost impossible, which is teaching a person how to be an artist.  A specific example of a strange teachable moment that stayed with me was when Graham described how the idea of form and space can operate together like “a blueberry sitting in a bowl of yogurt”, meaning that the space around a form exerts pressure and has a supportive presence. For some reason, that visual stuck with me to this day. Other teachers who affected me very much were Judy Glantzman, John Lees, and Ron Miliewicz. 

NYSS: Are there any upcoming shows or projects on the horizon you would like to share? And where can people see your work digitally?

CD: My next show is coming up so soon! It is called “Point Blank Range” and it is at Asia Art Center in Taipei opening May 6, 2023. It’s my first solo show in Asia and I am really excited for this exhibition and to be working closely with this gallery. I will be able to share images of these new works after the show opens! People can see my art on my Instagram at @carlodanselmi, on my website at www.carlodanselmi.com, or by googling my name. I am also planning have another show in NYC in the fall, details TBD.

NYSS: Do you have any parting advice/words of wisdom for current students at NYSS or artists in school in general?

CD: Yes! Most importantly, stay close to the artists in your class. These amazing people are the first real art community you will have after school and are invaluable. Community is an essential aspect of being an artist. Learn to support the artists in your circle, and always be open to meeting more interesting people to expand the amount of people in your art life. The art world can be an awful place, but at its best it is about people.

Carlo in his Studio. Photo by Sophie Fabbri.

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