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Richard Castellana


2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2019 / 2022

Richard Castellana is from New Jersey but now lives in New York City with his wife Elisabeth Bisbing, the two both artists in residence here together in Fall 2022. This stay marks the couple’s fifth time working and residing here. Richard entered the art world in the 1960s at which time he studied painting and sculpture at the New York Studios School. In 1968, however, during his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree, he temporarily abandoned his art studies to become socially involved in protests.

In 1987, he earned a Doctorate in Economics with a focus on Marxist thought and then went on to become a university professor of history and economics. Later, Richard founded his own program focused on an inclusive multidisciplinary educational vision between the arts, social sciences and economics. He loves teaching, but compared to economics, he prefers painting. Richard describes his artistic style as figurative modernist, but also one that is mixed with expressionism and impressionism. His painting career began with still life, and he then gradually moved towards elements produced by his imagination. During recent times, Richard’s focus has been surrounding natural disasters such as fires, floods, droughts and also endangered animal species. At Il Palmerino, Richard worked mostly on natural landscapes, which are subjects he does not have the opportunity to paint in New York City, except in Central Park.

From previous years...

For several years, Autumn and Spring were marked by the arrival of Richard Castellana and Elizabeth Bisbing. They would move into the Casina, immerse themselves in the environment with immediate naturalness. Elizabeth would immortalise budding flowers in her notebook, and Richard would build his landscapes, day after day, in search of the clouds' true colour or on a quest to capture the light reflecting on the meadow.

Richard Fremantle immediately included their art in his collection at Villa Peyron, having a soft spot for Richard's painting and its expressive power.

Their non-stop work usually began the second day after their arrival. Indeed, they were enviable in their methodical process and disciplined spirit. Their days were normally divided as follows: the morning for painting, and the afternoon for visits and errands. Sometimes, this order would be reversed, as they sought a to capture changing lights and shadows on canvas. They would work independently, in different spaces, each guided by the virtue of their own technique. Then, they would come back together and share comments on their progress. Watching this lovely, supportive partnership from the outside was reassuring and they are now sorely missed at Il Palmerino.

During one of their last stays, Richard and Elizabeth became involved with an educational programme at the Liceo Artistico G. Alberti in Florence. Seeing them with their students provided us an opportunity to appreciate their ability to share their passion for art.

Their reoccurring visits are currently on hold, as they explore opportunities abroad, yet they both keep us up to date on their regular exhibitions in New York and send us news of the awards they receive. We remain hopeful for their return to relive the fond memories we have of Elizabeth and Richard at Il Palmerino – the cheerful and lively balance of their art, which somehow stands side by side, different but complicit. And we'll never forget many happy evenings, together with Wendy and Howard as well, with a glass of good scotch and a game of dominos!


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