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Porfirio DiDonna

A Painter's Journey

Porfirio DiDonna

Porfirio DiDonna, Naples (detail), 1985, oil on linen. Private collection.

Curated by John Baker and Nina Nielsen

September 8–November 3, 2013

Members Only Reception

Saturday, September 21, 6-8pm

Special Events

Porfirio DiDonna The Shape of Knowing
Sunday, October 20, 3-5pm

3pm: Book Reading and Conversation in Danforth Art Auditorium
Author John Baker reads from Porfirio DiDonna The Shape of Knowing and engages in conversation with poet, essayist, and publisher William Corbett. 75 seats available, reservations suggested,
call 508-620-0050, ext. 10.

4pm: Book Signing
Author John Baker sign copies of his new book Porfirio DiDonna The Shape of Knowing.
To purchase advance copies, call 508-620-0050, ext. 15.


About the Exhibit

Porfirio DiDonna’s work explores the ritual of making marks and the physicality of painting, coupled with a deep religious sensibility. Reaching an understanding of the role of family, place, and religion in his life was vital to DiDonna’s progression as an artist—which is referenced in both a literal and spiritual sense in the works on view. Simultaneously vibrant and meditative, the artist’s distinctive use of symbols of personal significance, seen in an exploration of dots and dashes, spirals, graphite bands, windows, roads, and chalices, mark important periods and shifts in his career. This exhibition is held in conjunction with the release of John Baker’s book on the life and work of Porfirio DiDonna, The Shape of Knowing, published by Pressed Wafer.

About the Book

Porfirio DiDonna The Shape of Knowing
By John Baker
Published by Pressed Wafer

"In The Shape of Knowing, John Baker follows Porfirio DiDonna step for step, mark for mark, taking us on a journey of form and meaning like nothing we've ever experienced. The way in which Baker matches the form and meaning of DiDonna’s life to the form and meaning in his work is nothing less than a triumph. It is like a giant lost mosaic that has been lovingly reconstructed tesserae by tesserae, no stone left unturned, one of those puzzles with a million seemingly random minute pieces that have been intimately examined, considered top to bottom, front to back, again and again, and then perfectly fitted together to tell his story. Part excavation, part detective work, part reading of the tea leaves, it is that all encompassing. Indeed, it is so spherical in its scope, at once analytical, spiritual, intuitive, aesthetic, poetic, emotional, musical, psychological, sensual and even practical in all of its pursuits and dimensions, that it furnishes and fleshes out the arc, the timeline, of a life of art lived by one of the rarest and most precious of artists! In the end Porfirio DiDonna was much more than a beloved painter's painter; and in capturing the brilliant trajectory of this artist's all too brief existence, John Baker just happens to have made an altogether compelling case for DiDonna's overdue claim to greatness". Book overleaf, written by Addison Parks

The Shape of Knowing will be available for sale at Danforth Art for the duration of the exhibit.

About the Curators

Curators John Baker and Nina Nielsen are former owners and directors of Nielsen Gallery, one of Boston’s most prestigious commercial galleries founded in 1963. Recognized as a premier showcase for contemporary artists whose personal visions resist easy categorization, Nielsen Gallery was located in the historic Back Bay district of Boston at 179 Newbury Street at the time until its closing in June, 2009. Over the course of their 46 year career, Baker and Nielsen were recognized for outstanding curatorial abilities, most notably by the International Association of Art Critics (AICA).

In 2009, the AICA awarded their show Jay DeFeo: Applaud the Black Fact second place for "Best Show in a Commercial Gallery, Nationally." In 2005, the AICA awarded The Privilege of Solitude: Alfred Jensen and Forrest Bess first place for "Best Show in a Commercial Gallery, Nationally." Other major exhibitions at Nielsen Gallery  included "Jackson Pollock: Forty Four Psychoanalytic Drawings, 1939-41; and The Self-Reliant Spirit, featuring a comparison of four contemporary artists with Albert Pinkam Ryder, Ralph Albert Blakelock, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley. Nielsen Gallery was also recognized for notable survey exhibitions of work by such artists Albert York, Martin Ramirez, Gregory Gillespie and numerous others.

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Please Note: There are no museum galleries or exhibitions currently in this building; please see our exhibitions page for offsite offerings.

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