The Art of Nicora Gangi

Dalton's American Decorative Arts, 1931 James Street, Syracuse, NY    315-463-1568

July 20 - August 31, 2013, Opening reception Friday, July 19 5:30 - 8:00

Monday - Friday 10:00 - 5:00, Saturday 10:00 - 3:00 

All artwork is for sale, please email or call Dalton's for prices. 

Nicora Gangi’s work will resonate with those who appreciate her link to European art and her aesthetic kinship with the Hudson River School painters.   Yet her oil paintings have a fresh, modern sensibility to which lovers of contemporary realism will surely respond. 

Gangi received degrees in fine arts from Syracuse University in the mid 1970s, and there she began her career as a printmaker.   Perhaps her initial choice of medium was natural.  Her father ran a print shop in Manhattan, and designed packaging for high-end companies.  And her late husband, Bruce Manwaring, was already an established printmaker before they met.   Early on, however, she began to cast about for a medium more suited to her artistic inclinations.  She was drawn to her ultimate choice by finding a box of her mother’s pastels.   

Her work in pastels earned Gangi a well-deserved national reputation.   She has won many awards in this medium, including The Pastel Journal annual grand prize.  Her pastels combine superb technique with a sense of the dramatic, and a narrative grounded in Christian iconography.  In Chorister one is immediately struck by the precision and control of both line and color.  The dramatic qualities created by contrasting colors, textures, and objects are heightened by an enigmatic lighting scheme.  While Chorister is a beautifully made work of art, Gangi also wants her art to “tell a story” as she puts it, inviting the viewer to consider transcendent questions of life and faith. 

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In 2006 Nicora Gangi won the Pollock-Krasner award which supports artists who want to take up creative challenges.    This important award allowed her to pursue a long time interest in oil painting.  Gangi has studied oil painting in the time honored way by learning from the masters.  At the Metropolitan Museum of Art she absorbed lessons about color, glazes and brush strokes from the likes of Inness, Church, Hopper, Monet.  While modernist in many ways, her oils are related aesthetically, and in a broad sense spiritually, to Hudson River artists. Gangi’s forest paintings recall childhood rambles in the northern New Jersey countryside where she grew up.  These paintings bring to mind Asher Durand’s “tree portraits”, although the spare treatment of the subject and lack of sentimentality mark them as contemporary works of art.  In 11 a.m. to take a single example, the influence of Durand is evident in its distinctive feeling of depth, diffuse light, and a sense of wonder at God’s creation.  

Nicora Gangi’s upstate landscapes are another expression of her artistic kinship with the Hudson River painters.   The beautifully executed vivid skies in these paintings proclaim that connection in a welter of color and clouds.  One is reminded of the Luminist painter, Sanford Robinson Gifford.  The water in her upstate landscapes is all reflective motion of sky and atmosphere, while its prominence reduces the land to a black outline between the two.  In these paintings Gangi celebrates the equal majesty of air and water.   Her predecessors give the land its due in their reverence for nature, and as a compositional element in the scene they want us to look upon.  Gangi’s landscapes are not scenic allusions in the 19th century sense, but overt paintings meant to provoke a different emotional response.   For Gangi water and air flow in an unbroken circle, one always dependent on the other, in an ancient symbol of eternity. 


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