Christopher M. Magadini of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., has earned a reputation as one of the finest landscape and plein-air painters in the Northeast with technically masterful oil-on-canvas works that marry Contemporary Impressionism with the naturalism of 19th-century American landscape painting—tinged with elements of abstraction—to produce a unique style “where the power of nature to stir the human spirit becomes paramount.”
“I’ve always had a real passion for all kinds of art … non-objective art, the abstract painters,” the artist explains. “I’ve always experimented on the side with different things that come to mind. More recently I’ve allowed myself to pursue whatever idea comes into my head … Sometimes it takes me from realism to abstraction, if I’ve gotten more interested in the composition rather than the subject.”
In the process of creation, Magadini asks himself questions such as, “What would it be like if none of these had hard edges, but had soft edges. … How can that be achieved?” That might lead to applying paint in ways that don’t involve a brush.
Magadini is considered by many fellow artists and collectors to be one of the region’s top plein-air painters. His chosen subject matter—a rural scene in the fullness of summer, autumnal pastorals, winter scenes, twilight time—takes on emotional power through not just Magadini’s talent but also his rendering of a rich painterly surface enhanced by masterful brushwork.
The artist’s stated goal of “capturing the illusion of space and form while retaining a beautiful and interesting surface” is revealed in these paintings, where Magadini is successful in “capturing the illusion of space and form while retaining a beautiful and interesting surface.”
“For me, painting is not simply the replication of what the eye sees. It is the creation of an image that embodies my thoughts and feelings,” Magadini says. “These, I think, are fairly universal, and I seek to communicate and connect with viewers on that level.”
That philosophy translates into his new, more abstract work, and the artist acknowledges a cross-pollination between the strikingly different types of works. Underpinning all of the paintings to be displayed at Gregory James Gallery, though, is a DNA-level connection that stamps them as works by an artist creating at the top of his form.
A former illustrator, Magadini’s credits include covers for Reader’s Digest magazine, illustrations and promotional brochures for Reader’s Digest Books, and illustrations for Guideposts, Angels, Field & Stream, Boating, Audubon, Flying, Women’s Day, Scholastic Books and Zebra Books. He has designed stamps for the United Nations and the current American Heritage Series Collectors Plates for Royal Copenhagen USA. Illustrated books include “Bible Life and Times”; “The Illustrated Dictionary of Bible Life and Times”; “After Jesus”; “A Passage to India”; “Great Disasters and Rodale’s Naturally Great Foods Cookbook.”
Christopher Magadini was born in Great Barrington, Mass., in 1946, and raised in Palm Springs, Calif., Los Angeles and Phoenix. After graduating from The Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles in 1970, he pursued commercial illustration in Stockholm, Sweden. He returned to Phoenix, Ariz., where he continued working commercially. In 1975, Magadini moved to Flagstaff to teach art at Northern Arizona State University. In 1978, he received a full fellowship to Syracuse University and came east to earn a M.F.A. degree. He then moved to the New York metropolitan area to further his career as a free-lance illustrator. Magadini has taught at Marymount College in Tarrytown, N.Y., and has been a guest lecturer at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. He lives in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., and summers in the Adirondacks.