Pippy Houldsworth Gallery presents Caryatid, Francesca DiMattio’s third solo exhibition at the gallery.
The exhibition comprises new large-scale ceramics that respond to caryatid carvings used as columns in antiquity. These sculptures engage critically with women’s traditional role of support within the domestic sphere and strength drawn from femininity.
Totemic in structure, the caryatid sculptures are assembled from a combination of opposites that fuse to form a new hybrid. Reworking the female form, DiMattio explores conflicting expectations of womanhood, presenting feminine identity as a balancing act, precarious and full of possibility. The artist uses porcelain to shape and graft together objects from different cultures and time periods, sampling from the art historically revered and the quotidian. Each caryatid is both male and female, animal and human, living and inanimate. Translating each reference through porcelain and underlining formal similarities, she unites perceived dissonance or disconnect. The resultant forms highlight the surprising closeness of opposing qualities, both cultural and material.
In this exhibition DiMattio expands her visual language to incorporate the materiality of adornment. Elements typically perceived as ornamental, such as beading, basket-weaving, knitting and flower-arranging, become strong, towering and excessive, contradicting the forms they envelop and encrust. In this way the decorative shifts from a secondary accent and becomes the work itself. This transformation is reflected in the decision to make monumental, large-scale sculpture using a material perceived as delicate and domestic.
The artist’s practice continues to draw on the history of craft and the decorative arts, often re-evaluating their narratives through a feminist lens. Certain works trace the evolution of an image, whilst others combine different visual representations of the same idea. By highlighting this instability of meaning, DiMattio collapses hierarchies between high and low culture and destabilises fixed perceptions of identity.
Francesca DiMattio (b.1981) is an artist whose practice encompasses painting and sculpture. She holds a MFA from Columbia University, New York and a BFA from Cooper Union, New York. Solo museum exhibitions include Blaffer Art Museum, Houston and ICA Boston. Collections include Perez Art Museum, Miami; Saatchi, London; Zabludowicz, London; Frances Young Teaching Museum, Saratoga Springs and Paisley Museum and Art Galleries, Glasgow. DiMattio will have a solo exhibition at Art Omi, Ghent, New York later this year and is working towards a solo exhibition at Kentucky Museum of Arts, Louisville in 2020.all images © the gallery and the artist(s)