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From LEADERS
July - August 2000
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 The New York Renoir?

An Interview with Patrick Antonelle, Painter, New York

Often referred to as an "American Renoir" Patrick Antonelle can more precisely be dubbed the "New York Renoir" for his oeuvre is largely comprised of Manhattan street scenes and depictions of Central Park, all executed in a free-and-easy painterly style reminiscent of the French master and his contemporaries. However, the artist admits, it took time to perfect what he terms "the magic of my Impressionist-pointillist technique," by which he "can even create a 'feeling' of the atmosphere." Early on "my style of painting was realistic and tight. In fact," he relates, "it was a form of photo-realism," and therefore "devoid of heart, soul, and a more personal interpretation." Happily, though, "Impressionism has since become my way of expressing myself"; the public's reaction is that the works elicit "a positive, relaxed, calm feeling"; and "I'm now represented by more galleries than I could ever have imagined," Antonelle beams. With every thing going so well, does the painter anticipate making any changes? Perhaps one. "I certainly would like to expand my subject matter. "

Noted corporate and private collectors of Antonelle's paintings have included Apple Computer; Bergdorf Goodman, Citicorp, Delta Air Lines, Panasonic, and Patek Philippe, as well as Shirley Bassey, the late Leonard Bernstein, Michael Feinstein, Celeste Holm, Liza Minnelli, Regis Philbin, the Swedish royal family, and Ivana Trump. The artist is represented by Animazing Gallery (New York); Hudson River Gallery (Piermont, New York); Chrysallis Gallery (Southampton, New York); Gallerie Je Reviens (Westport, Connecticut); Kerygma Gallery (Ridgewood, New Jersey); and Artful Deposit (Bordentown, New Jersey). His own gallery, Patrick's Fine Art, will soon reopen in New York.

Who - and what - are the inspirations for your paintings?

The artists who have influenced my work the most are Monet, Renoir, and Pissarro - in other words, the French Impressionists. Also inspiring me is the essence of nature in all the seasons. Through the magic of my Impressionist-pointillist technique, I can even create a "feeling" of the atmosphere. And, of course, I find inspiration in nostalgic, period photographs of New York City, which I find at the Museum of the City of New York and the New York Historical Society. The combination of these three inspirations allows me to take a city scene, turn back the clock a century, add nature in whatever season it happens to be and in my own Impressionist way, and create an original work of art.

How has your artistic style developed over time, and do you foresee it changing in the future?

In the very beginning of my career, my style of painting was realistic and tight. In fact, it was a form of photo-realism. Although sales were good, I soon felt that there wasn't much feeling or emotion in the paintings; they were devoid of heart, soul, and a more personal interpretation. Impressionism has since become my way of expressing myself and nature. Things do not have to appear perfect.
No, I do not foresee any changes in my style in the near or distant future. However, I certainly would like to expand my subject matter, as most of what I've painted in the past has been the immediate locale. Having had the opportunity to travel in recent years to Arizona and Europe, I'm very excited about interpreting what are, for me, unfamiliar scenes.

Your education was actually in commercial art. Why did you switch over to fine art?

While studying commercial art at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, the time came for me to take some fine-art classes. For me, it was love at first stroke! I immediately realized what I was born to do. I remember how painting made me feel, and when I saw the reaction to my paintings, that gave me even more of a reason to abandon commercial art and pursue this, my true calling.

What was that reaction to your paintings?

Because I had my own art galleries in New York City, I was afforded the privilege and pleasure of hearing firsthand the positive responses of the public to my paintings. Artists who are only represented by galleries are denied this. People's comments were varied, but the common denominator was that the paintings evoked a positive, relaxed, calm feeling. In fact, many people said that they felt their stress level reduced. As an artist, this brings me great joy.

Who is your primary audience?

My audience is vast and varied. Due to the fact that my galleries were located in both the Wall Street/South Street Seaport and 57th Street/Central Park areas of Manhattan - I have since closed them - my paintings were exposed to tourists, celebrities, residents, and office workers. Also, because I produce my own collection of signed and numbered limited edition prints, many people from various economic levels can afford to purchase an image they admire.

How has the business side of the art world changed over the last 20 years? And have the changes affected you personally?

Especially during the mid-'80s, fantastic prices were being paid for fine art. In the early '90s this changed drastically, and artists and galleries felt the brunt of the recession, which led to numerous business closings. The recession led to the demise of my own two galleries, which was overwhelming for me.
Having experienced the struggle of keeping my galleries alive in a recession economy but ultimately having to close them, I eventually was spurred on to market myself in a full-throttle mode. After all, I had no choice, having a family to support. However, this negative was turned into a positive, as I'm now represented by more galleries than I could ever have imagined. As they say, "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger."

Why is it important to incorporate art in a corporate setting?

From my own experience, employees have commented that art induces a calm feeling, and employers have shared their sentiments - adding that the calm feeling increases productivity. Art also brings a sense of "home" to the staid office environment. In addition, in many instances having my paintings in corporate settings has resulted in sales to individuals for their homes.

Have you considered loans of your artwork to companies?

I've been hearing much about this lately - it seems to be quite popular - so I will certainly consider it. Of course, the concept of loans instead of outright purchases affords the artist more exposure: Works can then be seen in the offices of companies with low budgets to buy art. And to an artist, any exposure is good exposure!

What role do you see traditional artwork playing in today's high-tech world?

I truly feel that this fast-paced, high-tech world in which we live is beckoning for the qualities that traditional art has to offer. The world may change, but people remain basically the same, and I think that's why everyone has become so wired and stressed, as they try to keep up and cope. And that's why Thomas Kinkade has become so popular and successful. He has taken his very traditional cottages and landscapes and marketed them into a mega-industry. He's an inspiration to a traditional artist like myself, when I look at the vast audience for, and the positive response to, his genre. Traditional all is akin to classical music: It will go on forever.

You're involved with several charitable organizations. What do you do specifically?

I strongly believe that the talent I have is a God-given gift, and that I have an obligation to channel it to benefit the needy. Therefore, for many years I've donated paintings on a regular basis to fund-raising events. Most of my contributions have been to support children-related organizations, including Tomorrow's Children's Cancer Hospital in Hackensack, New Jersey, the Northern Lights Pediatric AIDS Foundation in New York, the Sunrise Children's Hospital in Las Vegas, UNICEF Worldwide, and many more. It's an honor to be able to give something back from what we're given. After all, we pass this way but once.

* Manhattan Arts Magazine, November 1992       

2002 Antonelle Art Impressions

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