Paul Santoleri Brings Live Painting and Explores the Apollonian/Dionysian Dichotomy

September 18, 2014

dirk anschutz photos

It’s been nearly a decade since muralist Paul Santoleri’s last stay at the Bride. This fall, however, the famed visual artist returns to the with Apollonian/Dionysian: The Constraints of Freedom, a curated exhibit exploring the inherent tensions between being an artist and an everyday citizen.

The Apollonian/Dionysian concept isn’t a new one—in fact, it makes its earliest appearance in Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy from 1872. Borrowing names from mythological siblings, Apollo and Dionysus, this dichotomy is often used to examine opposing ideas in philosophy, literature and art (e.g., logic/emotion, restraint/excess, or science/art).

In The Constraints of Freedom, Santoleri uses the concept to juxtapose the workaday world (Apollonian) and the creative world (Dionysian), asking how artists can maintain a healthy creative practice while also engaging in the necessary, albeit tedious tasks of everyday life. According to Santoleri, however, you certainly don’t have to be an artist to relate. “It’s really a universal issue,” he says, “Everyone is always trying to strike that balance between order and chaos.”

Since his last full exhibit at the Bride (2005’s Linear Interference, a solo exhibit underscoring the disconnect between mankind and nature), the Philadelphia native has been something of a creative nomad—variously creating, studying, and teaching here in Philadelphia, across the country, and abroad.

Most recently, Santoleri returned from a year-long stint with the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation’s Space Program in Brooklyn, where he was one of seventeen visual artists in residence. It was an experience he felt ended too soon. “Once our time was up, we all dissipated,” he says, “But then [Painted Bride Art Center] came to me with this opportunity, and I thought it was a chance to bring us back together.”

Not only will this new exhibit feature work from other grantees of the Space Program, but Santoleri has also tapped artists from all over the city and country to contribute. Several of those artists will paint live on the Bride’s gallery wall, a collaborative project that will develop over the course of the exhibit.

Though the subject matter of this new exhibit may seem Apollonian, Paul Santoleri intentions for The Constraints of Freedom are decidedly Dionysian. “Really, I just want to celebrate—this is a way to enjoy the company of friends again and keep making art.

Paul Santoleri’s exhibit Apollonian/Dionysian: The Constraints of Freedom will open with a reception on First Friday, October 3rd. Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 12pm – 6pm. Attendance is free.

Apollonian/Dionysian: the Constraints of Freedom will feature works from this growing list of artists:

Dirk AnschutzHenry


Peter Gourfain


Karen Dee Carpenter

Debra Priestly*

Deborah Simon*

Pinkney Herbert*

Tess Bilhartz*


Josh Smith


Lu Szumsky

Randy Wray*

Beth Clevenstine

Greg Lindquist*

Alan Crockett*

Clara Crockett

Lauren Kelly*

Elizabeth Leister

Steven Garr

Nancy Stroud

Michelle Marcuse

Michael Manthey

candy coated

Leroy Johnson

Richard Cramer

Carol Markel

Craig Stockwell*

Michael Ryan*

*grantees from the SPACE PROGRAM Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation, Brooklyn, 2013-14.