Francesca DiMattio’s works offer trace visions of architecture and figures, but without a legible sense of space or narrative. The manipulated imagery references a wide range of sources, including Renaissance and Gothic architecture, classical sculpture, lace and quilt patterns. DiMattio, who describes her ceramic works as “getting into trouble and getting out of it,” is known to amalgamate abstraction and representation without fully embracing either style. She is also known for a series of sculptures that fused parts of vases in jarringly different styles.
Occupying human-sized scale, DiMattio’s canvases create a dizzying sense of physical environment. Veering between art historical references – from pop, art nouveau, and op art – DiMattio’s paintings extend post-modern eclecticism into the realm of the surreal.
Her patchwork ceramic sculptures are very lively, perhaps to excess. Ms. DiMattio, who is in her mid-30s, turned to clay and glaze about five years ago, just as the ceramics bandwagon was gaining speed. Now she is elbowing her way toward the reins with a verve and abandon that is unusual.
Combining porcelain and stoneware, these bravura bricolages owe something to the ceramics of Nicole Cherubini and Arlene Shechet, while merging the improvisational energy of Peter Voulkos with the neo-Expressionist swagger of Julian Schnabel’s. But they mainly reflect Ms. DiMattio’s voracious reconsiderations of the history of ceramics, seemingly deforming, shattering and piecing (or jamming) together appropriated vessels in contrasting styles, glazes and decorative patterns.
The reassembled parts evoke Iznik pottery, jasperware, dime-store kitsch and flowery bits of Sèvres and various strains of blue-and-white, while other areas are so rough and organic they might be lava, as seen on one side of the otherwise demure work “Bloemenhouder.” African fetish sculptures and cake decoration are also inspirations.
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But everything is too deviant and offhand not to have been made from scratch by the artist, which it was. Sometimes this is hard to believe, as with the perfect little porcelain flowers on the better-behaved side of “Bloemenhouder,” but there are clues, like glazed handles the length of monkeys’ tails. This realization can force you to rethink everything, coming out ahead.
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