On view at Marianne Boesky this month in New York, artist Celeste Rapone brings to bear a number of unique new canvases that underscore her investigation of painted space, and its ability to place itself directly between the imagined and the real. Marking Rapone’s first solo show with the gallery the artist continues to examine the potential of painting through the human form. Drawing inspiration from her native New Jersey, Rapone seeks to communicate both personal and collective feelings of anxiety, longing, and nostalgia experienced in contemporary life.
Rapone’s works focus on the figure, often centering on women protagonists whose bodies impossibly contort and twist up to the confines that Rapone creates within the painting, or at other times capturing a tender exchange between a pair of figures. Rapone produces her works without preliminary drawings, gradually building the compositions of her paintings through a dynamic interplay between scale, color, pattern, and the shapes of the human form. In the settings of her paintings, the artist populates the space with an array of allusions, pulling from art history, pop culture, autobiographical sources, and drawing influence from the stylized figuration introduced by the Chicago Imagists.
Ranging in scale, each work within the show is unique and multifaceted in its development. At times, Rapone has a narrative in mind from which a thematic environment evolves for her characters to navigate. In others, the onset of a work is driven by formalist concerns, in which the artist begins with a unique color configuration or an abstract composition of shapes that then influence the formation of a painting’s scene. The resulting forms of her figures, whose bodies defy the rules of proportions and scale, are both undeniably present and vulnerable within the canvases. These forms and figures swirl throughout the space, turning into a careful balance of constructed image and observations of life. Delving into a space that exists between the artist’s eye and constructed world, here she turns the body into a site for the negotiation of memory, site, longing and history.
The show closes June 11th.
– D. Creahan
Celeste Rapone: Nightshade [Exhibition Site]