As If, Almost
8 Juillet – 11 Septembre 2022
White Cube is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Louise Giovanelli, her first with the gallery. Taken from the Latin word ‘quasi'’ to mean ‘as if’, the title of the exhibition suggests images that carry the potential for further narratives and multiple ways of seeing.
Working within an exaggeratedly elongated canvas, the stretched upright format serves to emphasize the totemic nature of the image and the acute sensation of gravity. This is used to effect in several works depicting cascading locks of hair, including the Equator paintings (2022) which feature wigs. In Silo (2022), a single coiled section of hair, is removed from its context and isolated, its purpose becoming ambiguous. The methodology of Giovanelli’s construction of her paintings relates closely to the tropes of social media; to the editing, re-contextualisation and manipulation of images in new and different ways, and in this way is both familiar to her audience while also making her subject distinctly unfamiliar.
The exploration of the upright format is further developed in two paintings which depict a woman’s cropped torso and long legs, wearing a shimmering, sequined dress and presented in extreme close-up. A portrait of Mariah Carey, the work reflects on the transference of devotion to such pop cultural figures; how this new focus suggests an inherent capacity for belief, offering a creative potential for participation and engagement, a way to reinvest life with value and meaning. Similarly, the new painting Altar investigates the lure of iconic horror, featuring a still from the film Carrie in a palette of lurid, artificial colours. Depicting a moment of terror, it provides a companion piece to Giovanelli’s earlier work Auto-da-fé (2021), which shows a scene of jubilation, just before the horror. Here, the stretched format accentuates the trajectory of the blood running down the woman’s face, while the garish, bright colours are in stark contrast: evocative of nightclubs, strobe lighting, performances and the spectacle of something artificial, unreal and manmade.
Themes of performance are also evoked in paintings of curtains, a motif that the artist has frequently returned to throughout her practice. Their frontal depiction, suggesting a denial of painting’s three-dimensional space, is split down the middle to break the continuum of the mesmeric image, part of an ongoing exploration of painting’s relationship to the two dimensional plane. A large-scale triptych featuring green curtains and a diptych presenting a pair of shimmering, gold foil drapes offer the potential for revelation and surprise, huge, dazzling abstract panels of colour that appears to catch and reflect the surrounding light. Among the largest works in this series so far, they act like backdrops for the devotional iconography in the show.
Louise Giovanelli (b. 1993, London) lives and works in Manchester, UK. She studied at Städelschule, Frankfurt (2018–20) under the tutelage of Amy Sillman, having received her BA from the Manchester School of Art, UK, in 2015. Solo exhibitions of her work have been held at Manchester Art Gallery, UK (2019); Workplace Foundation, Gateshead, UK (2019); Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, UK (2018); The Grundy Gallery, Blackpool, UK (2016). Giovanelli’s work has been featured in group exhibitions that include; Hayward Gallery, London (2021); AkzoNobel Art Foundation, Amsterdam (2021); and The Art House, Worcester, UK (2019).
In the Gallery: Louise Giovanelli
Louise Giovanelli discusses contemporary modes of worship – from technology to the entertainment industry – and discloses how she works and why she values the medium of painting.
Louise Giovanelli, Danica Lundy, Ilana Savdie with Hettie Judah
On the occasion of their concurrent exhibitions ‘As If, Almost’, ‘Stop Bath’ and ‘In jest’ at White Cube Bermondsey in 2022, Louise Giovanelli, Danica Lundy and Ilana Savdie talk to art critic and author Hettie Judah about the mechanics of image-making.