Delfina Nahrgang lives and works in New York; she also maintains dual artistic citizenship with a permanent studio in Pietrasanta, Italy. Like many international artists before her, Nahrgang found in Pietrasanta a living, breathing sense of visual culture of history -- as well as a stunning countryside, and epiphany-inspiring Renaissance architecture and art. Unlike many Americans, however, Nahrgang never regarded Italy as a place 'simply for touring.' She arrived there for the first time in 1981, and since 1983, essentially remained. Spending most of her year in New York, however, she has maintained a somewhat more peripatetic urban studio practice, studying first under such artists as Knox Martin, and Frank O'Cain, and Leo Manso at the Art Students League, then, over the course of the 1970s to the 1990s, working in a studio on Gansevoort Street, then West 14th Street, and later at the Elizabeth Foundation in Hell's Kitchen. It was at the latter, around 1996, that the beatitudes of Italy and the urban energy of New York City most fully fused in her work, specifically in her use of color -- or lack of it.
Prior to the mid 1990s, Nahrgang thought of herself primarily as a colorist, and an exuberant one at that. She might paint a fountain in Rome, for instance, capturing a spray of water in yellow and white as the sunlight filtered through from behind. Or, when working from memory of travels to places like Greece, she might also use intense color and its radiance as a way to convey the presence of light. "There's something to pure color that is engaging and untranslatable," says the artist, "but after a time, I found that there was so much of it I began to fight with it as well." Tertiary colors, in particular, were proving hard to reconcile, to resolve into a sense of energy-in-harmony. Then Nahrgang opted to return to black and white. It worked; with the black came a sense of heightened drama, and drama, Nahrgang realized, was what she was after. "Contrast gave me a sense of visual stability," says the artist, "and with it, I could find the strength, the bones of work. Black is a summation of all colors combined. I plucked out colors that were already in the black, so all my current color-sensibility comes from that. It's in these, 'black' or 'dark' works that I'm actually finding illumination, albeit of a more inner sort. Working from Nature, I first learned how to look outside; now I paint my own nature, looking In."
"It was an adventure getting to this point" explains the artist, "and now I feel that, no matter where I am working physically, or whatever may be going on in my life, I can use the paint to speak with a sense of power and mystery that is mine alone."