AO On – Site Interview: Andrea Mary Marshall at the Opening of “Gia Condo” – Thursday, January 17th, 2013 at Allegra LaViolaJanuary 19th, 2013
Blending fashion photography, performance, video and painting, the second solo exhibition by artist Andrea Mary Marshall explores the artist’s alter ego – the drag-embracing, Mona Lisa-fixated painter Gia Condo. Across 13 canvases and a series of photographs, the artist explores issues of gender and identity that surround the famous painting of the smiling woman, re-imagining them in the style of predominantly male contemporary artists like Keith Haring, Francis Bacon, and Marcel Duchamp.
Art Observed spoke with Marshall at the opening of her exhibition at Allegra LaViola Gallery about the character of Gia Condo, and her motivations for the exhibition.
Art Observed: There’s a sense of gender duality at play in this show. Can you talk about what inspired this sense of masculine energy in your characters?
Andrea Mary Marshall: When I started this project, I was thinking about the various theories surrounding the Mona Lisa. One theory that fascinates me is that Mona Lisa may actually be a self portrait of da Vinci in drag. As a self portrait artist I wanted to explore this idea and subtly play with drag and masculinity.
AO: It seems like you’re playing with these ideas of feminine objectification without completely seeking to subvert them, is that the case?
AM: I am objectifying myself as a female in my contemporary society. It’s both social commentary and self analyzation. I am looking at the demands of society, with the goal of evolving beyond these constraints.
Andrea Mary Marshall performing as ”Gia Condo”
Andrea Mary Marshall, Gia Condo Untitled No.3: Self Portrait as Mona Donna, Nun Innocent X, Nun in Ex Cathedra, Self Portrait as Me as My Mother, Study after Pope Francis Bacon, The Carcass of Velazquez, Year of the Polka Dot (2012), via Allegra LaViola
AO: You also pull from Catholic and Renaissance symbolism, is there a reason that these images resonate for you?
AMM: I am fascinated by the religious paintings of da Vinci that may incorporate deeper hidden meaning and symbolism beyond the teachings of the Catholic church. I attempted to do the opposite, by taking inspiration from the more overtly liberal, pop works of artists such as Keith Haring, Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol and infusing them with obsessive Catholic, religious imagery.
AO: Can you tell us about the origins of your characters? How and from where does someone like Gia Condo enter into your work?
AMM: Since Da Vinci used anagrams, I took the alternative titling for the Mona Lisa, La Gioconda, and adapted it to create the anagram Gia Condo. After that, I started working on the paintings and filling out the rest of the show’s presentation, all from the perspective of Gia Condo. I filled the performance with symbols tying back into the history of the painting, like the milk in the video, which nods to speculation that the Mona Lisa was pregnant.
Andrea Mary Marshall, Gia Condo (Installation View)
AO: The painters Gia Condo references are almost exclusively male, how does the selection of these artists relate to the show’s presentation? Is it parody?
AMM: There’s absolutely an element of parody in my work. I want all my work to have an element of humor, and this is the first project that I did that wasn’t about heartbreak, or toxic relationships, or victimization. I found myself working from this place that was wholly from myself, and it let me play with the presentation of these portraits.
AO: Are you planning future works featuring Gia Condo?
AMM: I think I’m going to retire her after this show, although I do really like her.
AO: There’s a sense of evolution at work as well, this circular movement from creating the character as art to the character creating its own art. Can you speak to that?
AMM: This was a difficult project for me, and very different from past works. In the past I have worked from a place of fear and judgement, which is often more comfortable. In this new body of work I was creating as Gia Condo, a more fearless, evolved version of myself, so I was constantly remembering to turn off the old habits of self criticism and doubt and work from my gut, from a place of raw passion, which is what Gia would have done.
Gia Condo is on view until February 16th.
Andrea Mary Marshall performing as “Gia Condo”