Irony and Imminent Danger in Paintings by Former Disney Animator Danny Galieote

Danny Galieote’s formative years as an artist were spent with Walt Disney. Prior to pursuing his artistic career, Galieote worked as a character animator when films like The Lion King, Tarzan, and The Princess and the Frog were hand-drawn. It’s no surprise, then, that his recent work—richly painted tableaux that transport viewers to the bygone era of the American 1940s and ’50s—evidences a particular aptitude for storytelling. “My paintings are hunting for a narrative,” he said recently in an interview. “And because of the way they’re cropped, the characters can be anyone, including the viewer.”

These intriguing characters abound in the artist’s show of new works at Arcadia Contemporary—particularly in female form. Included in the show are works from Galieote’s series in which he portrays women from behind as they conceal a weapon—be it a frying pan, giant pruning shears, or brass knuckles. Clad in a polka dotted party dress or a glittering red gown, these protagonists are enigmatic figures, each one with a precarious narrative left up to the viewer to interpret. Other works like Who’s The Boss?, picturing a pointy stiletto stepping on a man’s veiny hand, instill the idea of women in power, while portrayals of male figures like Strictly Business, suggest that Galieote’s female characters are armed for a reason. An attention to costume is of particular note through the exhibition; each character is carefully coiffed and costumed, dressed in top quality garb circa 1950, and sometimes the costume itself is the subject, as in The Tools of The Trade. Galieote’s flair for irony extends to Refreshing in Any Weather, an endearing image of a couple sipping Coca-Cola, huddled together beneath a raincoat, while a mushroom cloud evidences impending catastrophe. Despite the imminent danger, Galieote presents a vibrant selection of works that shine through his dynamic painting style and captivating vignettes.

Danny Galieote is on view at Arcadia Contemporary, New York, May 22nd–June 15th, 2014.

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