Thursday, December 3, 2015

Painting as a Visual Communication - Fine Art Painter Felice Panagrosso

I know, I know. I've been away for several months. I have been taking care of a couple of important family/personal life events in Europe. Fortunately all is well and I couldn't be any happier!

So I decided to resume the publishing of my blog interviews along with some other creative concepts, although I won't be able to publish as much as I used to do before - at least for the next couple of months, but it's a start.

In my next blog post I will share with you some of the art and design I saw while I was in Europe this past summer. Meantime I want to welcome my first guest of this month. He is an American painter, Felice Panagrosso, who has lived and worked in Paris since 2001 but is originally from New Haven, CT where he grew up in an Italian-American family. He returned to the United States for two years in 2006 to receive an MFA from the New York Academy of Art. Previously, Felice attended the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut, and Parsons, Paris. He has also studied drawing in Italy with the New York Studio School.

Tell us about yourself:

I've shown at The Forbes Gallery and The Windham Fine Arts Gallery in New York, held two solo shows in Paris and participated in an exposition entitled "A Bi-Cultural Palette: Les Artistes Franco-Américains" at the Mona Bismarck Foundation, also in Paris. My paintings have twice been accepted at the Annual Salon Exposition in the 15th Arrondissement in Paris, in 2009 and 2010, receiving "Mention d’Honneur" in 2009.

Painter Felice Panagrosso
In March and April, 2015, my painting "Rooftops from Atelier" was on exhibit at the Salon Aguado in the Mairie (City Hall) of the 9th Arrondissement of Paris, in support of Paris' bid to have its rooftops included as one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. I've also shown my work at Studio 7 Fine Art Gallery in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

I have a monthly blog called "The Art of Felice Panagrosso" (, where I write about painting, family, and Paris, always including one or more of my paintings.

What brought you to art in the first place?

I should answer this question by telling a story about the first painter I ever met in New Haven, Connecticut. Well, I didn't actually meet him. I saw him when, as a child, I was riding in the backseat of my father's car. There under a highway overpass was a man with a portable easel set up and painting on a canvas. I knew what that was because I had seen painters on television. Was he painting the streets? I didn't think so. Was he painting the cars? No. Was he painting some Grand Vista? Definitely not. Then what was he painting? His easel was set up so that he was facing the concrete highway abutment. It had rained the night before and he was painting, as far as I could tell, the water stains running down the concrete face of the abutment.

I only saw that man a few times after that, and only after a rainstorm. I never learned his name, but he taught me something that day. He was SEEING something that I had not seen. Something I was unaware of before I saw him and his painting. He was appreciating something that I had not appreciated before. He was seeing it and painting it and in the process showing it to me. So, when I see a broken down neon sign selling rubber stamps, the litter in front of some bicycles or even a triangle of sunlight on a patch of concrete, I am moved to paint it.

That's what brought me to painting.

What's exciting about your creative work?

I'm excited by communication, and to me that's what painting is, visual communication. If I am captivated by an image, a configuration of buildings or a stand of trees I trust that someone else in the world will be too. I think that that's why I love to write a monthly blog. The images and words compliment each other. I must add that, in spite of this, I still paint for myself, for my own pleasure and astonishment, and experimentation. Every painting is different and comes from a different place.

Who/What Inspired you?

I am inspired by the work of Les Nabis, a group of Post-Impressionist French Artists including Édouard Vuillard, Maurice Dennis and especially Pierre Bonnard. "Les Nabis" means The Prophets in Hebrew and Arabic. I lived within walking distance of Maurice Dennis' home in Saint Germain-en-Laye where I was able to study first hand much of his work. The Musée Gustave Moreau, perhaps my favorite museum in Paris, is just around the corner from me. Gustave Moreau, a Symbolist, was one of the teachers of Pierre Bonnard.

Tell us about a recent art project/series.

© Felice Panagrosso
My current series is called "Sign Language". These are neon signage from the 40's and 50's, mostly found in the United States but also a few in Europe. For me they evoke a sense of permanence, confidence, and solidity from the past, even in their present decaying state.

They also display an unabashed sense of commercialism and modernity. I try to capture their unique combination of art and technology in my paintings.

Find out more about Felice Panagrosso's paintings here:

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