Fan Mail

Fan Mail: Lorella Paleni

Lorella Paleni is always creating something that exists just over the horizon of awareness. Her works comprise a series of visual heuristics to nowhere, showing the viewer a picture plan filled with rich colors that simultaneously push into and out of each painting. But instead of resolving compositional elements into a defined image, the elements of her style culminate in a delicately constructed form of not knowing.

Lorella Paleni. In Reverse, 2014; acrylic and oil on canvas; 42 x 48 inches. Courtesy of private collector.

Lorella Paleni. In Reverse, 2014; acrylic and oil on canvas; 42 x 48 in. Courtesy of private collector.

Paleni’s works define the space where language eludes us—the moments where words fail and ideas aren’t quite graspable. Like slippery memories, these points in time are simultaneously otherworldly and very common. The experience Lorella Paleni cultivates through her paintings is one that is always just outside of certainty. Many of the works have a tremendous visual energy, such as Raw (2015): Two faceless figures wrestle, intertwined in an impossibly tight and intimate knot. Set atop a shallow pool of reflective water, the bodies vacillate between abstraction and hyperrealism as details like fingernails, toes, and the contour of a perfectly formed calf muscle emerge from the mess of limbs.

Lorella Paleni. Raw, 2015; acrylic and oil on canvas; 68 x 68 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Lorella Paleni. Raw, 2015; acrylic and oil on canvas; 68 x 68 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Her works employ an array of painterly strategies and stylistic motifs to engage her subject matter —testing line, color, shape, representation, and opacity. Both Raw and Arise are part of a series called Becomings—raws from 2015 that Paleni describes as addressing an interest in “the fallacy of the thin line that man draws to separate himself from the otherness of the animal. I’m not interested in humanizing the animal, but in animalizing the human, to bring it back to its place.”

Lorella Paleni. Arise, 2015; acrylic and oil on canvas; 47 x 42 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Lorella Paleni. Arise, 2015; acrylic and oil on canvas; 47 x 42 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Paleni gathers imagery from many sources to construct her own kind of montage. As she layers thick, opaque, and perfectly translucent layers of paint on top of and underneath the subjects of her paintings, the figures seem almost in motion, or are in the midst of becoming, forming into something. Interestingly, many of her subjects exist outside of a definable, specific representational space that seems to defy common uses of language, both visual and written.

Lorella Paleni. Seekers, 2014; acrylic and oil on canvas; 79 x 59 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Lorella Paleni. Seekers, 2014; acrylic and oil on canvas; 79 x 59 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Another work, Seekers (2014), inscribes two ghostly figures in the midst of lifting or moving something. As in Paleni’s other paintings, the central figures appear to come into greater representational focus the closer they are to the foreground. Space and depth are two key concerns for Paleni, as her picture planes, in fore, middle, and background, convey surreal and expressionistic details, like an overexposed photograph highlighted with bright dashes of color and hard sculptural lines.

Lorella Paleni. Seekers 2, 2014; acrylic and oil on canvas; 60 x 65 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Lorella Paleni. Seekers 2, 2014; acrylic and oil on canvas; 60 x 65 inches. Courtesy of the Artist.

Seekers 2 (2014) incorporates shadows of human figures blended with nearly formed landscape and domestic settings; however, this work seems to reference printmaking, as Paleni overlays a set of thin, window-blind-like yellow lines, perhaps scraped through a stencil. This gesture flattens the image to further highlight Paleni’s interest in translating realistic, photographic-style imagery through her own painterly lens.

 

Lorella Paleni is an Italian-born artist working in painting, drawing, and animation. Paleni earned her BFA in Painting from the Accademia di Belle Arti de Venezia, Venice, Italy, and her MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University School of the Arts, New York. Her work has been featured internationally in solo and group exhibitions including New York, Long Island City, Berlin, Milan, London, and Venice. She has completed residency programs in Joshua Tree, California; Kaunas, Lithuania; New York City, and Wassaic, New York.

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