Waddington Custot is delighted to announce that the gallery now represents the Estate of Allan D’Arcangelo (1930–1998) and will present the artist’s first UK solo exhibition, Pi in the Sky, in January. The exhibition brings together paintings and drawings from the late sixties to early eighties, all shown in London for the first time. The selection of works focuses on the artist’s landscape painting which, utilising the monuments of the road, is rooted in a collective American experience.
D’Arcangelo painted contemporary landscapes from his memory. A road, a pylon or the sky glimpsed through an overpass are his subjects and the Sublime root of landscape paintings, with its intrinsic links to nature, is not of concern. The paintings from this period tend to depict scenes of post-industrialisation, devoid of human presence. Often suggestive of an upward gaze, they particularly reference the view from a car window. The one-point perspective and intentional flatness used by D’Arcangelo allows for a democratisation of the picture plane, removing any hierarchical elements within the landscape: road, pylon and sky are all equal.
The works in the exhibition play with the idea of landscape to varying degrees. ‘Rail & Bridge’ (1977) looks up at part of a highway interchange but, intentionally, the complete visual information of this landscape is not given. The sense of landscape is almost lost in paintings such as ‘Untitled (Landscape)’ (1967). The work is diagonally obstructed by a red and white barrier blocking the view. An arrow behind, within the wider landscape of a bright, artificial blue, offers a clue of direction but is intersected. The flatness of this landscape is taken to an extreme; with the removal of one-point perspective, these roadside signals float into abstraction.
The suggestion of movement and fractured framing also seems to reference the idea of a film still, a suggestion that the painting is one in a sequence, an abstracted part of a whole. The works are intentionally imbued with a non-specific location emphasising the anonymity of the road-side landscape. D’Arcangelo states that ‘we are horribly separated from ourselves and this separation increases at 90mph’.
The works are important in their unique depiction of the American landscape. Using carefully chosen iconography and repeated signs, the works ask questions about the American psyche in a modern, changing America.