Paul Kostabi, American (1962 - )

Imagine if a little kid walked into a museum and painted a scene of a house with trees -- on top of a Jackson Pollock, leaving a smidgeon of the Pollock exposed in the lower left corner. That's just one of the many original and aggressive ideas you'll find in Paul Kostabi's paintings.

Best known for his angst-ridden, ferocious, expressionistic self-portraits, Paul Kostabi has also accumulated an impressive body of landscapes, still lifes, pure abstractions and several comically rapacious appropriations of various contemporary artists including Julian Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Giles Lyon. The psychically ravaged self-portrait is his most constant theme, but any time Paul feels like it, he'll bust out a mocking commentary of the pretentious scale and overblown egos of certain adored art stars, or he might sincerely explore the magical color possibilities of an otherworldly vase of flowers on a table. Paul Kostabi's work is fraught with careless care. He obviously loves painting, but is just as content to paint on low quality pre-gessoed student grade canvas as he is on the finest Belgium linen. He's like a Mozart who won't stop moving his fingers on any piano keys he sees -- you can pick up his body while his fingers keep moving and put him in front of a Hamburg Steinway or a broken toy piano and he will happily just keep on playing. Likewise, Paul will paint with equal passion for Mars Bar or MoMA, on torn cardboard or the best Arches watercolor paper. His only guide is the art spirit -- and even that he'll subvert if he feels like it.

Recently, strange large words have appeared in his extremely layered work, like: "DARCO JOE ENA" and "CARE BAIP." The meanings are ambiguous and seem personal. The use of words are yet another graphic device Paul has lifted from the Modernist painting tradition, first explored by Picasso and later by Stuart Davis, Ed Ruscha, Mimmo Rotella, Julian Schnabel and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Paul's use of color has become increasingly more decisive and subtle. In the early 1980s, when Paul first exhibited in New York's Lower East Side, in galleries such as Casa Nada on Rivington Street, Paul's colors were frequently more primary, acidic and seemingly reckless in the East Village spirit. Now, without losing any energy, his colors often have an almost romantic, autumnal harmony. And the complex layering of painterly stokes at times recalls the recent paintings of Terry Winters or the poster lacerations of Mimmo Rotella. With all these sophisticated art historical underpinnings, one senses that many more discoveries are yet to be made. However, the present collection of diverse painterly achievements, which comprise Paul's first one-person show in Italy, is already more than satisfying.

In recent years, the New York art world has witnessed a new obsession for ultra-slick, technically "perfect" work. This extreme "neatness? attitude of many young New York artists and dealers make California finish-fetish work from the 1960s seem like raw hobo art. Paul Kostabi's work is the antithesis of this Neo-analism. He prefers to drive a Rambler with a few scratches on it -- not a squeaky clean Lexus.

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS
1983
Long Beach Poets Society, Long Beach, California  
1984
Fashion Moda, group show, New York
Casa Nada, New York  
1985
No Se No, New York
Ronald Feldman Gallery, group show, New York  
1986
LACE Gallery, Los Angeles
Edge Gallery, group show, Fullerton, California  
1989
USA Gallery, New York 
1990
Canegie Hall Gallery, New York   
1991
Tunnel Gallery, New York  
1994
Angel Orensanz Foundation, group show, New York  
1995
ABC No Rio, group show, New York  
1999
Great Linford Manor; Milton Keynes, England
PANX, Toulouse, France  
2001
Musical Tragedies, Internet show, Furth, Germany
Destroy All Music, Silverlake, California
Dark Delicacies, Burbank, California
SPA, New York
Lakeside Lounge, New York
Max Fish, New York
Taylors, photo show, New York   
2002
Gallerie Haus, Nuremberg, Germany
Ramones & Augsburg Festival, Rampe 3, Augsburg
Saletta D'Arte Viviani, Pisa, Italy
Knitting Factory, Los Angeles, California, (with Dee Dee Ramone)
Studio Mondolibro Arte, Florence, Italy  
2003
Rampe 3, Augsburg, Germany
Spazi Arte, Piacenza, Italy
Night of 1000 Drawings, Artists Space, New York
Lucky Cat, New York
Galerie Zero, Berlin, Germany
Popkomm, Cologne, Germany
84 Ghz Gallery, Munich, Germany   
2004
Scope, Los Angeles
Saatchi & Saatchi, benefit auction, New York
Vine Art, Bolzano, Italy  
2005
Gallerie Leonardo, Bolzano, Italy
inchiostro indelebile-impronte a regola d'arte, group show, Galeria de
la Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Ateliers de Artistes de Belleville, Paris, France
Galerie Zero, Berlin, Germany
Capodilucca, Bologna, Italy
Vine Art, Bolzano, Italy
Galleria d'arte Quadreria , L'arte  brut di Paul Kostabi, San Donà di Piave , Venezia, Italy
Contemporanea Forli, Italy
Galleria Leonardo, Galerie Bolzano, (Interpretations), Bozen,  Italy 
Piave, Venezia, Italy  
2006
Galleria Leonardo Galerie Bolzano, (Kindred Spirit), Bozen , Italy
Galleria Cavour, Bologna, Italy  
Libreria Bocca, Milano, Italy
Kunst Art, Bolzano, Italy
Art Verona, Italy
Contemporanea, (10 Years), Forli, Italy
Bergamo Arte Fiera, Italy
Expo Arte, Montichiari Brescia, Italy
Arte Padova, Italy
Galleria d'arte Quadreria - Paul Kostabi News, San Donà di Piave, Venezia, Italy
Galleria Margutta Artecontemporanea, Catania, Italy
Galleria Genus, San Benedetto del Trento, Italy
Galleria Pancaldi, Live, (cardboards), Roma, Italy
Expo Montichiari (BS), Italy
Artefiera, Bergamo, Italy
Galleria Il Faro, Belvedere Marittimo, (CS), Italy
Galleria Genus, San Bendetto del Trento, Italy
Galleria  La Sfinge, Ascoli Piceno, Italy
Galleria Consorti, Roma, Italy
Galleria Edarcom Europa, Roma, Italy
Galleria Pancaldi,  Smack Omaggio a Marilyn Monroe, Roma, Italy
Galleria Pancaldi,  Piccolo Volto, Roma, Italy  
2007
Kunst  Art, Bolzano, Italy
Vicenza, Arte, Italy
Hidden Hands, White Box, New York
Freak out, Ferrario Arte, Trento, Italy
Maggazini del Sale, Siena, Italy
Convento di Santa Maria della Pietà - Ripa Teatina(Chieti), Italy
2008
Mural (Honk For Obama), 57th Street and 12th Avenue, New York
Night of 1000 Drawings, Artists Space, New York
Sala delle Colonne, Comune di Corbetta (Milano)  
2009
Infantellina Contemporary Berlin
Faces and Flowers, Outside In, Piermont, New York
Art Burn, Art Basil, Miami
NAC Novegro Arte Contemporanea, Milano
Fondazione Mazzullo, Palazzo Duchi di S. Stefano, Taormina
Contemporary Arte Pancaldi, Live In Progress, (Degeneration), Roma
Saletta d'arte Vivianni, Pisa, Italy
Galleria Art Plaza, Venaria, Ialy
Borghese Palace Art Hotel, Firenze, Italy
Compagnia dell'Arte, Bologna, Italy  
2010
Art Shred, Winkleman Gallery, New York
Caruso Gallery, Milazzo, Italy
102 Gallery, Rome, Italy
Mark and Paul Kostabi, Giulianova, Italy
Cremona Art fair, Cremona Italy   
 
SELECTED PUBLIC COLLECTIONS   
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York
Paterson Museum, Paterson, New Jersey
New England for Contemporary Art, Brooklyn, Connecticut
Whitney Museum of American Art, video, Paper Tiger Sessions
Nassau County Museum of Art, New York
Museion - Museum of modern and contemporary art, Bolzano Italy

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