On view now at CULT | Aimee Friberg Exhibitions San Francisco: She Moonage Daydream, the latest group show curated by Aimee Friberg. The exhibition explores fantasmas, gender aesthetics, identity tropes, the female versus male gaze and the title takes inspiration from a song by everyone's favorite gender fluid artist, David Bowie. The ten artists in the show cover a broad range of mediums and themes, ranging from Kara Joslyn's haunting ELEPHANTASMAGORIA, to Leah Guadagnoli's beautiful, mutant masterpieces. The show comes at a perfect time not only in 2016, but also during an era of both rapid evolution and de-evolution on these and similar social issues.
We immediately fell for Desirée Holman's absorbing colored pencil/mix media works and Facundo Argañaraz's amazing contribution, Untitled (dédoublament effervescence). However, perhaps the pieces that stayed with us the longest were those of New York-based artist Leah Guadagnoli. For the past few years, she has enamored art and design lovers alike with her Memphis inspired, medium bending, sculptural offerings. She utilizes everything from upholstery to stone, foam, padding and oil to create incredible patterns come to life. We were fortunate enough to speak with the artist about her approach and contributions to She Moonage Daydream and you can find our Q&A below.
From left: DESIRÉE HOLMAN, Flesh, Texture (Diffuse Map), 2011, Color pencil and mixed media on paper, 36 x 36 inches.; FACUNDO ARGAÑARAZ, Untitled (dédoublament effervescence), 2014/2016, Automotive paint, acrylic, and UV ink on aluminum composite panel, 60 x 48.5 inches.
The Brvtalist: You use materials ranging from fabric, upholstery, padding, paint and more. It's almost like post-modern/Memphis furniture come to life on a wall. Talk about your approach to selecting materials and do you consider your pieces painting, sculpture or something else?
Leah Guadagnoli: I begin with two things: a line drawing and patterned fabric. The drawing serves as an instruction manual and the fabric is used as an anchor in my decision making. Sometimes I find the fabric on the internet. Other times I digitally print patterns I design onto fabric. Either way, the fabric must be exciting, playful, geometric, and peculiar. Each section is blank/blank and ready for interpretation. It's a game of formalism, spunk, and familiarity. How thick will this chunk be? Will it be smooth and painted or treated with a stucco-like texture? Will this part be wrapped in fabric? Will I stack these two or will they be side by side? Will I make it soft or hard? The aim is to create a unified thing on the wall that finely balances all of its opposing elements. The work can evolve very quickly with smallest integration of a new treatment. The possibilities are endless and that's a fucking great position to be in.
I love Memphis furniture because of its clashing features are how they feel organized and unified by their compartmentalization. Pee Wee's playhouse is also pretty mesmerizing. So are hotels that haven't been renovated since the early 80's. Interiors that are unconventional and/or outdated are my jam. It's the closest thing to time travel or bringing a lucid dream to life.
I come from a painting background so in the beginning I called them paintings. Over time they have become more sculptural. Now I'm not really sure and I'm not sure I really care. Are they both? Are they neither? They must have a name. Titles are one thing but what are they called? I'm up for suggestions of a new word to add to the spider web encrusted art dictionary.
TB: You deal in abstraction, kitsch and even anti-aesthetic. Have you always been interested in making tacky or outmoded beautiful?
LG: Yes! It's way more challenging and appealing.
TB: Talk about the pieces you contributed to the She Moonage Daydream show at Cult Exhibitions.
LG: This is Not My City and This One's a Keeper are unique in that they both use damaged upholstery. In This is Not My City, I was thinking about traveling and flight, or more specifically interiors of planes. I found the upholstery on the internet. It's from the 80's (obviously) and arrived with several cigarette burns and just enough wear and tear. I think you could still smoke on planes back then?
In This One's a Keeper, I used the backside of this upholstery I found at the Mecca of outdated fabric in the Northeast: Jomar in Philadelphia. It's a lovely nasty yellow color because the adhesive is so old and has gotten wet several times by sitting in this leaking warehouse for over a decade as it was left to rot. I have since moved on from making work with material that shows it's age from it's wear and tear (these two were made in the Spring of 2015) and instead used pattern as a sign for time passed.
TB: What's coming up next for you?
LG: This Fall I will be in two group exhibitions that I am super psyched about! The first will be a new installment of Sharona Elissaf and Emily Weiner's one-night exhibition series called The Willows. 'If You Build It' will take place Saturday, September 17 from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m at 424 Fifth Avenue at 38th Street in the Penthouse. The second show is organized by Christpher Stiegler and Dina Shaulov-Wright at Cuevas Tilleard in Chinatown that will run October 14- November 13. My work is also featured in the current issue of Garageland called 'Remake Remodel'. You can pick up a copy at Printed Matter (NYC peeps) or on their website: http://www.transitiongallery.co.uk/htmlpages/editions/GL20/intro.htm
We would like to thank Leah Guadagnoli for taking the time to speak with us. She Moonage Daydream runs now until August 20th at Cult Exhibitions San Francisco. For more information please visit Cult Exhibitions and Leah Guadangoli.