Louisa Gagliardi “Wishful Thinking” Antenna Space / Shanghai

September 25, 2020

Antenna Space is pleased to present “Wishful Thinking,” a new exhibition by the internationally acclaimed young artist Louisa Gagliardi. This is her first solo exhibition in China.

Gagliardi’s work is intensely personal and is closely tied to contemporary life. As an art critic so eloquently put it: Her paintings make important breakthroughs, in a pictorial sense, which seem to allude to both the onslaught and renewal the digital wave is causing in all aspects of contemporary society; what’s more is that we see a deep fascination with the classical history of painting and a desire to recapture these essential “codes” of painting in her work.

In terms of technique, Gagliardi’s paintings are “manual-machine compositions” that have a process of creation. The image, or rather the elements that appear in the image, originate in her sketchbook, she then scans the sketches and converts them into digital files. With the help of a tablet and other digital drawing tools, she proceeds with the actual “drawing” process within a software environment like Illustrator or Photoshop. Once the drawing is complete, she finalizes the digital file (as a .PSD) and sends to a professional digital printer to print on a large-format printer (so far all of her work is printed). Gagliardi does not use canvas as the support – she initially chose to print on PVC, but has since experimented with printing on richer surfaces like aluminum and mirrors. Some of her works also involve an additional “hand process” that she describes as “adding the last layer.” She brush applies a usually transparent everyday product, like a gel or nailpolish, that retains a glossy quality once dry. She applies it only to select areas on the painting, most often to a figure’s skin.

In terms of style, Gagliardi is a true synthesizer, freely and boldly drawing from the rich legacy of art history, from the wider, mixed-visual culture of design, advertising, film, fashion, MTV… and now from the vast amount of still and moving images and videos available on the Internet.

The meaning of “style” and the way it is created in Gagliardi’s painting practice are fundamentally different from the principle art movements in the history of art. Perhaps we could say that in her creative consciousness, the “style” itself is the “material” (regardless of its source, origin, or various states of existence). That is to say she nurtures and develops a personal style that does not resemble the traditional processes we are familiar with. To borrow a visual metaphor – she is, in essence, creating her style through a “synthetic recipe.”

Of course, her method has taken greater shape over time. Her progression from 2015 to the present saw a fairly sequential development in style with her early “synthetic recipes.” Gagliardi’s style significantly shifted in 2017 with a move towards greater richness and diversity in subject matter and in the complexity of her image compositions. Naturally, these changes also prompted her to “upgrade” the materials she used to achieve her “style.” It is a pleasant surprise to see this in its highest form to date with her 15 new works (all created in 2020) presented in “Wishful Thinking.” Within this solo exhibition, she presents us with a series of paintings completed within the same time frame, but highly differentiated in style, subject, content, and scale. The works complement each other to become a thematic narration that reveals her persistent concern for reproducing (individual) lived experiences in this contemporary world.

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