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In His Upstate New York Studio, Stefan Bondell Paints Day and Night, Fueled by Hudson River Light and Copious Amounts of Sugar

Stefan Bondell at this Hudson Valley studio. Courtesy of the artist.

"Dark Marks"—the artist's first solo exhibition with Vito Schnabel Gallery—is now on view in New York.

New York City’s urban terrain of concrete, asphalt, and steel has long inspired Stefan Bondell, a native of the city, known for his defined obsidian palette. Over the past few years, however, Bondell has swapped Manhattan’s streetscapes for wooded vistas, working in a church-like studio in Germantown, New York, nestled in the scenic Hudson Valley.

Over the few past months, Bondell has spent long days and nights in the double-height studio, working on his latest series of paintings. Now on view in “Dark Marks,” Bondell’s first solo exhibition with New York’s Vito Schnabel Gallery, these swirling compositions draw from the mythic power of art history, featuring classical Greek and Roman sculptures in dreamlike tempests with contemporary socio-political imagery. Some of these ancient sculptures might be recognizable to hawk-eyed museum-goers—the artist has pictured several from the collection of the Met, a museum where he’s spent many hours. 

The Baroque era is another evocative influence with his evocative use of light and shadow offering a contemporary perspective on the centuries-old compositional strategies of chiaroscuro and tenebrism. Bondell’s works, too, are shaped by an era of socio-political, financial, and cultural tumult, but the energetic artist injects his work—and studio—with a dose of quirky humor even so. Among the more unusual elements in his studio are a giant plastic black swan—a reminder of the unexpected—and bags of shredded United States currency. 

Recently, Bondell welcomed us into his upstate studio, where he listens to Bob Dylan, drinks black coffee from a local bakery, and tries to capture that “on fire” feeling.