Diane Kotila

September 22–December 12, 2020 West Gallery
Installation view: Diane Kotila (Five paintings and two sculptural objects are installed in a room. Two paintings are installed on the back wall, three paintings on the right wall, and the two sculptural objects on a rectangular pedestal in the center of the room.)

Diane Kotila, installation view, 2020

Installation view: Diane Kotila (Two paintings that vary significantly in size are installed on a wall in a row aligned to their bottom edges. The larger square painting on the right depicts a pale, bodiless head in the center wearing an astonished expression. It lies on a painterly black, gray, and white background. The smaller painting on the left depicts a similar head with an angry expression. There are abrupt red marks under the head and both lie on a flat, light yellow background.)

Diane Kotila, installation view, 2020

Installation view: Diane Kotila (Seven paintings and two sculptural objects are installed in a room. Three paintings are installed on the left wall, two paintings on the back wall, two paintings on the right wall, and the two sculptural objects on a rectangular pedestal in the center of the room.)

Diane Kotila, installation view, 2020

Installation view: Diane Kotila (Three paintings that vary in size are installed at different heights and with varying gaps between each painting. The smallest of the three paintings to the left depicts a gray head wearing a disgruntled expression and black marks below the head that suggest limbs or a body against a white background. The painting in the center depicts a light-flesh toned, floating head wearing an aggravated expression lying on a dark gray ground on its side against a lighter gray background with a white tint at the top. The painting to the right depicts a similar floating head wearing a both confused and surprised expression without a body but with forearms that suggest a shrugging movement. The right forearm is cropped and the head is placed against a gray and white background.)

Diane Kotila, installation view, 2020

Installation view: Diane Kotila (Five paintings and two sculptural objects are installed in a medium-sized room. Four paintings are installed on the left wall, two paintings on the back wall, one painting on the right wall, and the two sculptural objects on a rectangular pedestal in the center of the room.)

Diane Kotila, installation view, 2020

Installation view: Diane Kotila (Two paintings that vary slightly in size are installed on a wall in a row. The landscape-orientation painting on the right depicts a light-flesh toned bodiless head wearing a frustrated expression looking up. The head seems to be against a dark corner and is placed on a gray background, illuminated by a white ray that casts a shadow to the foreground. The square painting on the left depicts a bust with a similar head wearing a gray collared shirt and an angry expression with a brown smudge on its face. The figure is placed against a dark brown background with a black shadow surrounding the figure.)

Diane Kotila, installation view, 2020

Installation view: Diane Kotila (Three paintings and two sculptural objects are installed in a medium-sized room. Three paintings are installed on the back wall, and the two sculptural objects on a rectangular pedestal in the center of the room.)

Diane Kotila, installation view, 2020

Installation view: Diane Kotila (A close-up of two sculptural objects installed on a pedestal. The object at the top is a found saw with its blade painted with oil in pale flesh tones. The object at the bottom consists of two found hammers which are joined at the butt and its handles painted with oil in darker, redder flesh tones.)

Diane Kotila, installation view, 2020

Diane Kotila Untitled, 2020 Oil on linen wrapped panel 40 x 30 in. (A portrait-orientation painting of a bodiless head wearing a displeased expression. The head is painted in a peachy flesh tone and a darker light brown flesh tone around the face and is placed on a nearly black background, with tints of dark umber around the head.)

Diane Kotila
Untitled, 2020
Oil on linen wrapped panel
40 × 30 in.

Diane Kotila Untitled, 2020 Oil on linen wrapped panel 30 x 30 in. (A square painting of a bodiless head head wearing an aggravated expression lying on a dark gray ground on its side. The head is painted in light-flesh tones and is placed against a lighter gray background with a white tint at the top.)

Diane Kotila
Untitled, 2020
Oil on linen wrapped panel
30 × 30 in.

Diane Kotila Untitled, 2020 Oil on linen wrapped panel 40 x 40 in. (A square painting of a bust with a light-flesh toned head wearing a gray collared shirt and an angry expression with a brown smudge on its face. The figure is placed against a dark brown background with a black shadow surrounding the figure.)

Diane Kotila
Untitled, 2020
Oil on linen wrapped panel
40 × 40 in.

Press Release

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.)

For further information, contact: info@whitecolumns.org

Installation view: Diane Kotila (Five paintings and two sculptural objects are installed in a room. Two paintings are installed on the back wall, three paintings on the right wall, and the two sculptural objects on a rectangular pedestal in the center of the room.)
Installation view: Diane Kotila (Two paintings that vary significantly in size are installed on a wall in a row aligned to their bottom edges. The larger square painting on the right depicts a pale, bodiless head in the center wearing an astonished expression. It lies on a painterly black, gray, and white background. The smaller painting on the left depicts a similar head with an angry expression. There are abrupt red marks under the head and both lie on a flat, light yellow background.)
Installation view: Diane Kotila (Seven paintings and two sculptural objects are installed in a room. Three paintings are installed on the left wall, two paintings on the back wall, two paintings on the right wall, and the two sculptural objects on a rectangular pedestal in the center of the room.)
Installation view: Diane Kotila (Three paintings that vary in size are installed at different heights and with varying gaps between each painting. The smallest of the three paintings to the left depicts a gray head wearing a disgruntled expression and black marks below the head that suggest limbs or a body against a white background. The painting in the center depicts a light-flesh toned, floating head wearing an aggravated expression lying on a dark gray ground on its side against a lighter gray background with a white tint at the top. The painting to the right depicts a similar floating head wearing a both confused and surprised expression without a body but with forearms that suggest a shrugging movement. The right forearm is cropped and the head is placed against a gray and white background.)
Installation view: Diane Kotila (Five paintings and two sculptural objects are installed in a medium-sized room. Four paintings are installed on the left wall, two paintings on the back wall, one painting on the right wall, and the two sculptural objects on a rectangular pedestal in the center of the room.)
Installation view: Diane Kotila (Two paintings that vary slightly in size are installed on a wall in a row. The landscape-orientation painting on the right depicts a light-flesh toned bodiless head wearing a frustrated expression looking up. The head seems to be against a dark corner and is placed on a gray background, illuminated by a white ray that casts a shadow to the foreground. The square painting on the left depicts a bust with a similar head wearing a gray collared shirt and an angry expression with a brown smudge on its face. The figure is placed against a dark brown background with a black shadow surrounding the figure.)
Installation view: Diane Kotila (Three paintings and two sculptural objects are installed in a medium-sized room. Three paintings are installed on the back wall, and the two sculptural objects on a rectangular pedestal in the center of the room.)
Installation view: Diane Kotila (A close-up of two sculptural objects installed on a pedestal. The object at the top is a found saw with its blade painted with oil in pale flesh tones. The object at the bottom consists of two found hammers which are joined at the butt and its handles painted with oil in darker, redder flesh tones.)
Diane Kotila Untitled, 2020 Oil on linen wrapped panel 40 x 30 in. (A portrait-orientation painting of a bodiless head wearing a displeased expression. The head is painted in a peachy flesh tone and a darker light brown flesh tone around the face and is placed on a nearly black background, with tints of dark umber around the head.)
Diane Kotila Untitled, 2020 Oil on linen wrapped panel 30 x 30 in. (A square painting of a bodiless head head wearing an aggravated expression lying on a dark gray ground on its side. The head is painted in light-flesh tones and is placed against a lighter gray background with a white tint at the top.)
Diane Kotila Untitled, 2020 Oil on linen wrapped panel 40 x 40 in. (A square painting of a bust with a light-flesh toned head wearing a gray collared shirt and an angry expression with a brown smudge on its face. The figure is placed against a dark brown background with a black shadow surrounding the figure.)

Installation view: Diane Kotila (Five paintings and two sculptural objects are installed in a room. Two paintings are installed on the back wall, three paintings on the right wall, and the two sculptural objects on a rectangular pedestal in the center of the room.)

Installation view: Diane Kotila (Two paintings that vary significantly in size are installed on a wall in a row aligned to their bottom edges. The larger square painting on the right depicts a pale, bodiless head in the center wearing an astonished expression. It lies on a painterly black, gray, and white background. The smaller painting on the left depicts a similar head with an angry expression. There are abrupt red marks under the head and both lie on a flat, light yellow background.)

Installation view: Diane Kotila (Seven paintings and two sculptural objects are installed in a room. Three paintings are installed on the left wall, two paintings on the back wall, two paintings on the right wall, and the two sculptural objects on a rectangular pedestal in the center of the room.)

Installation view: Diane Kotila (Three paintings that vary in size are installed at different heights and with varying gaps between each painting. The smallest of the three paintings to the left depicts a gray head wearing a disgruntled expression and black marks below the head that suggest limbs or a body against a white background. The painting in the center depicts a light-flesh toned, floating head wearing an aggravated expression lying on a dark gray ground on its side against a lighter gray background with a white tint at the top. The painting to the right depicts a similar floating head wearing a both confused and surprised expression without a body but with forearms that suggest a shrugging movement. The right forearm is cropped and the head is placed against a gray and white background.)

Installation view: Diane Kotila (Five paintings and two sculptural objects are installed in a medium-sized room. Four paintings are installed on the left wall, two paintings on the back wall, one painting on the right wall, and the two sculptural objects on a rectangular pedestal in the center of the room.)

Installation view: Diane Kotila (Two paintings that vary slightly in size are installed on a wall in a row. The landscape-orientation painting on the right depicts a light-flesh toned bodiless head wearing a frustrated expression looking up. The head seems to be against a dark corner and is placed on a gray background, illuminated by a white ray that casts a shadow to the foreground. The square painting on the left depicts a bust with a similar head wearing a gray collared shirt and an angry expression with a brown smudge on its face. The figure is placed against a dark brown background with a black shadow surrounding the figure.)

Installation view: Diane Kotila (Three paintings and two sculptural objects are installed in a medium-sized room. Three paintings are installed on the back wall, and the two sculptural objects on a rectangular pedestal in the center of the room.)

Installation view: Diane Kotila (A close-up of two sculptural objects installed on a pedestal. The object at the top is a found saw with its blade painted with oil in pale flesh tones. The object at the bottom consists of two found hammers which are joined at the butt and its handles painted with oil in darker, redder flesh tones.)

Diane Kotila
Untitled, 2020
Oil on linen wrapped panel
40 × 30 in. (A portrait-orientation painting of a bodiless head wearing a displeased expression. The head is painted in a peachy flesh tone and a darker light brown flesh tone around the face and is placed on a nearly black background, with tints of dark umber around the head.)

Diane Kotila
Untitled, 2020
Oil on linen wrapped panel
30 × 30 in. (A square painting of a bodiless head head wearing an aggravated expression lying on a dark gray ground on its side. The head is painted in light-flesh tones and is placed against a lighter gray background with a white tint at the top.)

Diane Kotila
Untitled, 2020
Oil on linen wrapped panel
40 × 40 in. (A square painting of a bust with a light-flesh toned head wearing a gray collared shirt and an angry expression with a brown smudge on its face. The figure is placed against a dark brown background with a black shadow surrounding the figure.)