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Nathan Di Pietro

A Modern Iconographer
(Text by the artist)

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George Washington with 14 Scenes from His Life
Egg tempera and gold on panel, 44" x 36"

With my work, I have tried to emulate the distinctive style of Eastern Orthodox icon paintings while exploring the legends of American history. I paint these historical themes with an approach that is rife with myth and dogma, as well as political satire. Much of my inspiration and imagery comes from a set of detailed 1898 encyclopedias. In many of my paintings, I elevate George Washington by placing him within religious contexts as a Christ-like figure.

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De Soto and Babe Discover the Grand Canyon
Egg tempera and gold on panel, 13" x 17.5"

History has endowed Washington with divine properties; his life, deeds, values, and image have become canonized. Perhaps the best example of this is Washington’s Cradle; by removing his body and giving him additional arms, I have given him a godlike status reminiscent of the deities of many eastern religions.

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Election, Egg tempera and gold on panel, 30" x 22"

Basically, my paintings work on two levels. On one level, I am taking these paintings seriously, putting in the time and effort needed to craft quality work. On another level, I am taking the part of a political satirist, portraying politics and politicians in a different light; by changing the way they are normally viewed.

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George Washington in Majesty, Egg tempera and gold on panel, 43.5" x 34"

Egg tempera is a very labor-intensive medium. Compositions must be completely planned out beforehand, and the gilding must be done before any painting can be started. As a medium, egg tempera is both unique and fascinating. As an emulsion, it dries almost immediately after application; color gradations are built gradually, with hundreds of fine lines. Colors must also be applied from dark to light.

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Bush in Majesty Egg tempera and gold on panel 22" x 18.25"

My largest work, George Washington in Majesty, took two months to complete. Water gilding requires investing many hours of practice and the use of specialized tools. As an inherently valuable material, gold is fascinating to work with. It has a historical stigma attached to it, of greed, wars, bribery, treason, and the wealth of empires. It practically speaks for itself. The significance of this material is included in the historical aspect of my work.

Nathan DiPietro

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