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She's Fire by Christopher Pugliese, Oil on Linen, 48x60
Solo Exhibition 
June 4-14, 2024
Opening Reception
Thursday, June 6, 6:00 - 9:00pm
Meet the Artist at Opening Reception
Artist Talk at 8:00pm 

Christopher Pugliese is an American Artist. Born and raised in New York City he paints in the manner of his Italian ancestors and considers the process an exploration of his own genetic history. At home he is known as the “Downtown Da Vinci,” while in Mexico and Latin America he is referred to as “ el Pintor.” In 2010, the paintings from his early career, 1995-2010,  appeared in a retrospective at the New Britain Museum of American Art. This series of brooding images painted in the style of the Renaissance Masters tells the story of the artist’s life over a fifteen year period. The frustrations of a young man learning to paint,  the combination of excitement  and fear we feel when confronting the blank canvas. The artist compares this time of his life to Picasso’s Blue Period, the dark chapters of a book one passes through on their quest for the sun. After this retrospective, Christopher’s work began to change dramatically. He abandoned the studio and started traveling, creating installations at Burning Man, performances at the Venice Bienalle and interactive street art murals. This decade of creative exploration led the artist to a new project “ The Museum in the Streets.” Conceived during the 2020 quarantine, this project is meant to inspire artists who would normally only exhibit in galleries and art fairs to put their work in the streets where it can be experienced by the public directly. Christopher Pugliese believes that Art is one of the basic building blocks of civilization, and that in times of great wealth and prosperity this truth can be taken for granted because we are so image rich. As the world is becoming increasingly virtual, private people are losing access to experiences that are free from the agendas of commercial advertising.  “Therefore,” asserts Mr. Pugliese, “it is essential to create public art so that people can be enriched by the power of original Artworks.”


During the Covid-19 lockdown, Christopher Winter Pugliese created a street art persona named “the downtown Da Vinci.” This alias combines Pugliese’s passion for Renaissance painting with his youthful roots as a downtown Manhattan graffiti artist. “It was the perfect time for public art,” Pugliese asserts. “The streets were deserted and boarded up. Museums and galleries were closed. The entire city was a blank canvas.” In this empty environment, Pugliese became inspired to paint a series of murals expressing the uncertainty of our times. He called the series ‘a museum in the streets’ and signed the works with the downtown Da Vinci’s signature.


The downtown Da Vinci’s murals were greatly appreciated by the community. None of the works were tagged or vandalized, though one of them was stolen by an enterprising thief. That’s when Pugliese realized this audacious project needed a profile picture: a street version of the Mona Lisa. Many artists have crafted renditions of the Mona Lisa. Duchamp spoofed the Gioconda with a mustache. Dali added his twisted mustachio. Warhol multiplied her iconic image with iridescent stencils, implying that art itself had become a commodity. Christopher Pugliese, the downtown Da Vinci, set the Mona Lisa on fire and adorned her with a wheat pasted print of a golden “DADDY” necklace. This adornment represents an irreverent paste up on a seductive body positioned in an uncertain world between scribbles and flames. In street slang, the term “That’s Fire” means excellence. When the the plywood came down in 2021, Pugliese decided it was time to retire from street art.  But he believed the downtown Da Vinci concept would not be complete without a new version of the most expensive painting in the world, the infamous “Salvatore Mundi.” Sold for 450 million dollars at Christie’s auction house in 2017, there has been doubt about the painting's authenticity.  It appeared unfinished, damaged or both. The art critic Jerry Saltz declared: “ I've looked at art for almost 50 years and one look at this painting tells me it's no Leonardo.” 


Pugliese wanted to resolve the obscured portions of the painting. This task took three years to complete. Struck by the subtlety of the sfumato technique, Pugliese found the delicacy of the drawing almost impossible to duplicate, which lead Pugliese to believe the painting was indeed by Leonardo himself.  The art critic Jerry Saltz recently visited the downtown Davinci and gave Pugliese’s painting his thumbs up. After laboring long to generate fresh versions of Da Vinci’s masterpieces, the artist states that in striving to channel the Old Master he gained a deep understanding of Leonardo’s process. A new style is emerging now in Pugliese’s work that can be seen his recent portraits. Pugliese’s latest show also contains a series of NFTs associated with the paintings that document their authenticity - because he believes the original Da Vinci would most certainly be working digitally if he were alive today. 

For inquiries please email info@daciagallery.com or call: 917-727-9383


Artwork by Christopher Pugliese Artwork by Christopher Pugliese Artwork by Christopher Pugliese Artwork by Christopher Pugliese Artwork by Christopher Pugliese Artwork by Christopher Pugliese