Diane KotilaSeptember 22–December 12, 2020 West Gallery
White Columns is pleased to present the first solo exhibition by the New York-based artist Diane Kotila. Kotila’s exhibition comprises a group of nine recent oil-on-linen paintings and two painted sculptural works.
Writing about her approach, Kotila has described her painting as “an exploration of historically and culturally familiar portraiture tropes. A study of figuration colliding with abstraction, the meeting point unknowable and elusive.” Each of Kotila’s paintings features a disembodied or decapitated portrait-like image based on the Belgian cartoon character Tintin. Kotila has stated that: “In this body of work, I turned to classic strategies, using Caravaggio and Velázquez among others as sources, as a starting point, using the face of Tintin as a vessel or a foil. Like many cartoon characters, the face of Tintin consists of a rudimentary set of marks treated with great consistency to evoke the full range of human emotion. But no absolutes exist in this realm of interpretation. By beheading the character, isolating the features from the body and any external context, the subject is slippery and deceptive. In spite of the invitation to be easily grasped, the expression turns over and over, remaining unresolved.”
Kotila’s visceral work is characterized by an uneasy tension that is established between her depictions of violence and the typically mordant sense of the comedic that underscores her approach. A sense of rupture and fragmentation prevails throughout Kotila’s work. Foregrounding a series of oppositional formal devices – e.g. light/dark, humor/horror, etc. – Kotila’s work actively explores uncomfortable truths. Like the work of artists as distinct as Philip Guston, Leon Golub, Bruce Nauman, and Joyce Pensato, among others, Diane Kotila’s work ultimately seeks to both illuminate and interrogate the violence – emotional, psychological, and societal – that continues to shape and condition La Comédie humaine.
Diane Kotila (b. 1965) lives and works in New York. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Western Michigan University in 1986. Her work has previously been presented at Miart, Milan by Anthony Reynolds Gallery (2018); S|2 London gallery, Sotheby’s, London (2019); and by Kenny Schachter at the Felix Art Fair, Los Angeles (2020.)
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