Color is the word I would use to broadly describe Charles (or “Chuck” as he’s often called) Arnoldi’s work. Often seemingly lit from behind, or imbued with some special formula that makes the paint extra vibrant, Arnoldi’s use of color is gripping, spellbinding and remains transfixed in your memory long after you’ve walked away from the painting.
His new body of work integrates that signature use of color, but combines it with a unique estimation of perspective. Though the work is not explicitly about perspective, Chuck explains, the concept certainly emerges as an important component of the paintings, which are color blocks segmented by black lines. With depth of field ostensibly moving between planes, the works are beautiful, complicated and require a patient look. Evocative of the abstract art of early 20th century and European Constructivism, the body of work refers to the history of painting itself. The likes of Mondrian, Picasso, Braque and Leger emerge as influences, as well as American Abstract Expressionists like Al Held, Barnet Newman, Hans Hoffman and Ad Reinhardt. But beyond not being about perspective, these paintings are also not necessarily about the history of painting.
Rather, as Chuck explains, these paintings, as with all his paintings, are about that ongoing conversation based around how to make painting a relevant medium. Arnoldi briefly alludes to the cynics who have stated that his work is decorative. I’ve never seen his work that way and I know that he has never created work under that premise. Instead, Arnoldi has been working with the same kinds of ideas for many decades, all of them centered on exploring formal concepts. From the “stick” pieces in the 1980s, to this current work Chuck has been ever on a mission to make what he refers to as a “valid painting.” Arnoldi approaches his art practice in a consistently diligent manner. His desire to create paintings that have a life of their own—that can deliver an experience without any direction, coercion or explanation—has allowed him to move fluidly between bodies of work. Nearly every time I come to the studio he is working on a new series. It seems that each leads to another; once he feels he has fulfilled that mission of creating a “valid painting” under the guidelines he has implicitly given himself, he moves on to another idea.
Arnoldi’s studio is arguably better than most galleries. Located in Venice the studio is bright, spacious and features components that highlight his exceptional eye for design. It is a beautiful space to see beautiful paintings. Chuck is also gracious with his time. In the hour and a half I’m at the studio he is visited by several different artists dropping off work for a benefit auction at Inner-City Arts, which Chuck was helping to organize. Since I was young I’ve seen this generous side of Arnoldi and it’s become a kind of standard in my mind for artists who have the opportunity to give back. Clearly busy as ever Chuck wasn’t sure when these new paintings would show in Los Angeles, but you can be sure that ArtBlitz will let you know because they are not to be missed.