New YorkPaint, Porcelain and Pulp: Amy Bessone, Francesca DiMattio, and Natalie Frank
Salon 94 Bowery presents Paint, Porcelain and Pulp: Amy Bessone, Francesca DiMattio, and Natalie Frank.
Bringing together three distinct bodies of work, this exhibition investigates traditional practices through contemporary sensibilities and explorative methods that reveal what is “known” while allowing us to question what is assumed as given. Each referencing a long lineage of tradition through of their chosen media, Bessone, DiMattio, and Frank circumvent expectations through nuanced symbolism and imagery that bridges history with current social and political milieu.
Amy Bessone is known for her representations of female forms, in both painting and sculpture. From Greco-Roman marble nudes to the odalisques of Picasso and high modernism, from the dreamlike characters of Surrealism, to decorative collectable objects, Bessone mines the cultural representation of women throughout history, paying attention to dichotomies such as tragic and comic, abstract and figurative, dark and light.
In Bessone’s recent oil on canvas paintings, vibrant color infuses figurative lines to yield mask-like faces, bodies composed of abstracted elements, and uncanny “portraits” of small figurines are rendered larger than life. There is a sensuality to the work evident in the artist’s handling of the paint and the depicted bodies, both of which allude to the notion of the fetish. Considering the rich history of female figuration, Bessone mediates on popular motifs including the bather, the mother, and the muse, then re-imagining them with her signature vision of high and low, exalted and kitsch.
Similarly, Francesca DiMattio’s new porcelain sculptures combine elements of animal and human, masculine and feminine, classical and contemporary, high and low art. Mimicking the Caryatids of ancient Greece, these architectural totems defy easy categorization as their references mutate and collide in unexpected juxtapositions. While the history of ceramics remains her starting point, DiMattio expands her sources to include a history of sculpture, from second century BC bronze memorials to everyday utilitarian forms such as a pillow or suitcase. As with her paintings, DiMattio mines the history of craft, transposing traditional techniques such as basket weaving, wedding dress appliqué, and even shell art into intricate porcelain ropes and pebble-like jewels or other encrusted weathered surfaces.
Using references and traditional techniques associated with the feminine, DiMattio rebrands how we see the feminine. What are usually taken as elements of adornment or decoration are translated into large imposing forms that embody strength. Contemporary kitsch similarly infiltrates her work. DiMattio enthusiastically embraces ornamentation and adornment, siding with excess in order to push discordant visual connections and disrupt preconceived histories. Her monochrome statues are as dynamic as they are unpredictable.
For Frank, drawing and painting are both intimate and expansive; She began her professional career as a figurative painter: large-scale works on canvas portrayed domestic scenes and power dynamics, particularly within sexuality, gender identity, history and religion. Her practice in drawing continues these concerns and in paper pulp painting, she fuses her layered approach to drawing and its intense color with her paintings’ gestural and rendered hand.
Using imagined images of women and men, these pulp paper paintings were made at Dieu Donné through their Sponsorship Program. Dieu Donné has collaborated with hundreds of emerging and established artists since its establishment in the late 1970s.
By pouring, moving, dividing, or combining viscous hand-pigmented paper pulp with brushes, spoons, and sticks, and using it as paint, Frank sculpts intimate portraits of anxious females, some eating their hair, others closing their eyes in anguish or peace. Frank’s approach is painterly, working against the natural tendency of paper pulp to settle, she agitates these surfaces with bravura brushwork. This medium’s material specificity asserts itself as an active voice in reflective portraits that are a part of this exhibition.
Amy Bessone (b. 1970, New York) completed her studies at De Ateliers, The Netherlands in 1995 and since then has mounted numerous exhibitions including solo shows at Veneklasen Werner, Berlin (2012), Praz-Delavallade, Paris (2011), David Kordansky Gallery (2007 and 2010), among others. Her work is included in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Frac Bretagne, Chateaugiron, France, The Saatchi Collection, London, UK, Rennie Collection, Vancouver, Canada, and the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL.
Francesca DiMattio (b. 1981) lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include Boucherouite at Salon 94, New York, NY, Francesca DiMattio: Housewares, at the Blaffer Art Museum, Houston in 2014 (catalogue) and Vertical Arrangements, at the Zabludowicz Collection, London. Her work is in the permanent collections of The Perez Art Museum, Miami, FL; The Frances Young Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY; The Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY; The Saatchi Gallery, London and The Zabludowicz Collection, London.
Natalie Frank (b. 1980 Austin, Texas) lives and works in Brooklyn. Recent solo exhibitions include “O,” at Half Gallery,New York in 2018, and “Dancers and Dominas” at the Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago. Her work is in the Permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of art, New York, NY, the Yale University Art Museum, New Haven, CT, the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, and the Burger Collection, Hong Kong. This past March she completed a large-scale commission for Grimm Tales, a full-length performance at Ballet Austin. For this project she created thirty-five new drawings for set, textiles designs, animations, costumes and head pieces, bringing Grimm Tales to life in a new, surreal manner.all images © the gallery and the artist(s)