Paul Madonna Close Enough for the Angels Exhibition


Paul MAdonna
close enough for the angels
may 19 – July 21, 2016

Paul Madonna’s First Solo Show in Five Years Comes to The Dryansky Gallery in the Form of an Exhibition & Book Launch

The Dryansky Gallery is proud to present Close Enough for the Angels, an exhibition of original drawings and limited edition book release by artist and author Paul Madonna. The exhibition will mark his first solo show in five years and features a selection of pen and ink drawings from the book of the same name, all created on location in Thailand, Japan and China, which represents a new path and direction for Madonna. Close Enough for the Angels opens May 19, 2016, from 7-9pm, and runs through July 21st at The Dryansky Gallery, 2120 Union Street in San Francisco.

Best known for All Over Coffee—Madonna’s series of painstakingly rendered pen and ink drawings paired with enigmatic conversations and quips—which graced the San Francisco Chronicle and resulted in two books with City Lights recently came to a close after 12 years and a total of 726 strips.

“I called All Over Coffee a comic strip without the comic,” says Madonna, “because it was a re-interpretation of how the newspaper strip functioned. With Close Enough for the Angels, I’ve done the same with the form of the illustrated novel, by altering the expected relationship between image and text. To be clear, this is not a graphic novel, which tells a story through sequential panels, but rather a novel where images are an element of the story itself.”
As a contemporary take on the classic form of the illustrated novel, Close Enough for the Angels features over 100 lush and haunting drawings paired with a full-length plot driven story about Emit Hopper, who, twice a one-hit wonder, is thrown back into the limelight twenty years after faking his own death. It explores the question, what happens when your life is taken over by luck?
Luck of course is a blade that cuts both ways. When starting the drawings and the book in 2009, Paul had a vision of where he wanted to take his work. Using the base of his popular series All Over Coffee, he began to develop a longer, more elaborate project to launch his next career. But as luck would have it, in 2015, he was evicted from his long time Mission Studio. “The subsequent impact of that,” says Madonna, “left me with the realization that I was ready to move on from All Over Coffee, and double down on my next venture.”
In a coincidence that could also be construed as luck or perhaps providence, the two sisters who co-direct The Dryansky Gallery grew up in Chiang Mai, Thailand, making this one of their most personal exhibitions to date. “One look at Paul Madonna’s new work in Close Enough for the Angels, and we were hooked,” says Jilian Monribot, co-director and curator. “Having grown up in Chiang Mai, Thailand with my sister, Madonna’s depictions of this enchanted land hit home hard. 'How is it that this San Franciscan could bring back to life such intimate scenes of my childhood?’”
In terms of text, Madonna credits the work of Raymond Chandler and Haruki Murakami as inspirations. For the art he has stayed with the drawing style he developed over the years with All Over Coffee, but conceptually, based his choice of subject matter on the early 19th century woodcut artist Utagawa Hiroshige’s series, The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō.
Adds gallery owner and co-director Janel Dryan, “The duality of Madonna’s work — art & literature — pen and ink drawings on watercolor paper in conjunction with a deep plot-driven novel, is a marriage that in a gallery exhibition becomes fully livable and experiential in a completely new and enticing way. How do we separate the two? With Madonna, you don’t. His drawings and words are bound in such a way that one doesn’t quite function without the other.”
In addition, Apple has agreed to partner with Madonna on an e-book version, which will be released in conjunction with this exhibition. For Madonna, whose love for creating books is based in the desire for “every person to be able to own a copy,” the e-edition represents public accessibility to the work, even for those unable to own an original drawing or limited edition book.
About Paul Madonna
Paul Madonna is a San Francisco-based artist and writer. He is the creator of the series All Over Coffee (San Francisco Chronicle 2004-2015), and the author of two books, All Over Coffee (City Lights 2007), and Everything is its own reward (City Lights 2011), which won the 2011 NCBR Recognition Award for Best Book. Paul’s work is about pairing elements: text and images; concept and craft; thought and beauty. Paul’s drawings and stories have appeared in numerous international books and journals as well as galleries and museums, including the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum and the Oakland Museum of California. He is the Comics Editor for, has taught drawing at the University of San Francisco, and frequently lectures on creative practice, even when not asked. He holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University, and was the first (ever!) Art Intern at MAD Magazine (1993-94), for which he proudly received no money.

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