Friday, February 7, 2014

Giovanna Cecchetti: Untitled Medicine in Lay of the Land

Giovanna Cecchetti, Untitled Medicine/Garden Song/Serpiente, 30 x 64", oil on linen, 2010

The exhibition Lay of the Land, on view through February 20, 2014, deals with landscapes as they are perceived and reconstructed by artists. Each artist in the show focuses on a different aspect of this reconstruction. 

Giovanna Cecchetti reconstructs the sounds and energies of the Amazon jungle through abstract visual imagery in oil on linen. These traditional materials communicate the experience of being present in a space of immense sensory input. The paintings are devised to arrest the viewer for a moment before providing access to a vibrant world. Cecchetti's landscapes are neither real nor imaginary. Rather than offering a simulacrum of the Amazon, the artist provides the viewer with a language of symbols for plants and insects that convey the dense energy of the scene without the use of visual mimicry or literal transcription. Never having experienced the teeming serenity of the rainforest in person for myself, the paintings in this exhibit are medicine indeed.

In the artist's own words:

"The selected paintings are part of a series I initiated in 2008 titled “Untitled Medicine.” This series is inspired by my travels into the Amazon jungle of Peru. Returning to the Amazon in 2009 and 2010 brought further depth to my understanding of the magical and mystical character of the jungle terrain. The visual imagery in these works attempts to capture the density of the landscape along with its soundscape. The jungle is rarely quiet and consistently active with insects, animals, flying creatures, reptiles, and the whispering of plant spirits. The tangled growth of trees and vines, ferns and palms visually overlay the seldom seen horizon and sky. One seems to merge into the jungle environment until one can no longer distinguish a self separate from one’s surroundings.

My work is very much concerned with formal issues dealing with color, shape, line, and composition as well as with space, time, and the visionary. I work within the tradition of formalist abstract painting and mark making practices. Using traditional materials of oil paints on linen, my painting methods incorporate a considerable preparation to ground, underpainting, glazing, and varnishing. To construct the imagery in the paintings I use a process of layering marks and geometric based shapes, often combining simple shapes into complex structures. I sand each layer of paint, which produces an effect of layers dissolving into each other, serving to mutually organize and confuse time. Between each serial layer of paint, I apply a thin film of cold beeswax, which I then buff in order to give a consistency to the surface as well as to preserve the underlying imagery while furthering the illusion of space between one layer and the next. When I consider the painting complete, I then buff the surface with a final layer of beeswax to produce what I call a soft surface, a surface that I feel invites the observer to enter."

- Giovanna Cecchetti

Giovanna Cecchetti, Untitled Medicine/Red Squirrel Spirit/Jungle, 28 x 40", oil on linen, 2009

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