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Beatrice Pediconi: Subject to Change

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday March 21, 2019

Tonight, SepiaEYE Gallery will host a gallery talk with Beatrice Pediconi, in conjunction with her exhibition, Subject to Change. In conversation with Jean Dykstra of Photograph Magazine and Mary-Kay Lombino of the Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, the artist will discuss the evolution of her work and process. I stopped in to the gallery last week for a preview, and met the artist.

The exhibition of 20 x 24 Polaroids, together with smaller Polaroids, video and limited edition artist books, offers a view of an artistic process that is unique and engaging. Pediconi created the series, which consists of two diptychs, one triptych, seven single images, and videos following a visit to New Orleans. The overall title of the work, “Gaea,” refers to the Ancient Greek personification of Mother Earth. Traveling around the low-lying terrain of the Mississippi Delta, where earth and water seem never to become separate elements, the artist conceived a series of images that explores the dissolution of boundaries and the inevitable chaos that ensues.

Her artistic process, through which she seeks to evoke the beauty inherent in disorder, is disorder in itself. Her “canvas” is, in fact water, in a semi-gelatinous consistency, onto which she applies oil paint. The consistency of the fluid “support” enables her to take enough time to nudge the colors into the patterns that are then captured by the mammoth Polaroid camera. Through a process that somewhat resembles the Japanese marbling technique called Suminagashi, she gently nudges the oil colors for each image towards a pattern that evokes aerial photographs from a sub-orbital height.

Mesmerizing and meditative, these otherworldly visions never reveal their mysterious origins—they are a measured expression of the artist’s vision with a cadence that unfolds from sheet to sheet. The triptych—which seems an impossible achievement when the artist’s process becomes understood—clearly positions her for an even deeper exploration of motif/material/materialization. 

The artist states that the Polaroid process is critical to the creation of this series, “a rare, dynamic medium that perfectly matches the semi-permeable interaction of earth and water.” Unlike film, or digital camera work, Polaroids embody the interaction of an object to its capture, during which the object being captured dissolves as its capture becomes an element of its own.

With Subject to Change, Pediconi explores "human nature and its need for stability in the face of destruction." On viewing the images as a group, the audience perceives the artist’s intention “to touch human issues through environmental themes.” In the Polaroid process, she says, “as the painting dies, the photograph comes to life. I believe that being human is entertaining impossible odds: despite the inevitability of disaster, we stay optimistic. ‘Gaea,’ in this sense, is a juxtaposition of elements of stillness and change, of death and life, of regeneration and the inevitable proliferation of entropy in our evolving world.” Below: Gaea 29, still from 1-channel video [detail]

About intention and effect, she continues, “We cannot repeat our experiences or processes, just as two dissolved liquids can never be emulsified again.” One work in the series, which is hung in gallerist Esa Epstein’s office, perfectly sums up this phenomenon: against a black background, which is the painted surface of the tray into which the emulsion had been poured, a lacy network of red lines hovers. I asked Pediconi how this image, so different in form and effect, had materialized. She said, “while I was preparing to move the red oil paint into position, it simply cracked.”

Beatrice Pediconi | Subject to Change, ends its run on Saturday, March 23. Join the artist tonight for a conversation with Jean Dykstra of Photograph Magazine and Mary-Kay Lombino of the Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College. SepiaEYE, 547 West 27thStreet, #608, NY, NY Info For more information about the artist, visit her website
Photos © Dario Lasagni, courtesy of SepiaEYE Gallery dart-interview

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