allyson strafella

viveka

may 20 – august 28, 2021

via a. stradella 4

Drawing is the protagonist and common thread between the three solo shows by Silvia Bächli, Jessica Stockholder, and Allyson Strafella on view at Galleria Raffaella Cortese from May 20, 2021. Each artist has developed their own drawing practice differently, but with the shared desire to cross the boundaries of the sheet of paper and overcome the limits of the frame and of the two-dimensional surface. The medium, in all three exhibitions, takes on an installative dimension and expresses a desire for osmosis with the space it inhabits.

In via Stradella 4 Allyson Strafella presents her first solo show with the gallery, which previously showed the artist’s work in an exhibition conceived with Helen Mirra, fieno fieno fieno, in 2016, followed by the related project between the two presented at Art Basel in 2019.

The title of the show, viveka, comes from the ancient Pali language. It is a term that for Strafella encompasses her experience of this past year. Though there are several translations, the one that resonates for Strafella speaks to the concepts of “seclusion + absorption” (in the words of Buddhist teacher Gil Fronsdal). This past year has been about sheltering in place, staying home, and being alone with ourselves due to the pandemic. Though uncomfortable for many, the time in seclusion from the world provided an opportunity to become absorbed in practice – the practice of mediation, the practice of drawing. Strafella’s studio has been a welcomed refuge to engage with this concept of seclusion + absorption.

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Drawing is the protagonist and common thread between the three solo shows by Silvia Bächli, Jessica Stockholder, and Allyson Strafella on view at Galleria Raffaella Cortese from May 20, 2021. Each artist has developed their own drawing practice differently, but with the shared desire to cross the boundaries of the sheet of paper and overcome the limits of the frame and of the two-dimensional surface. The medium, in all three exhibitions, takes on an installative dimension and expresses a desire for osmosis with the space it inhabits.

In via Stradella 4 Allyson Strafella presents her first solo show with the gallery, which previously showed the artist’s work in an exhibition conceived with Helen Mirra, fieno fieno fieno, in 2016, followed by the related project between the two presented at Art Basel in 2019.

The title of the show, viveka, comes from the ancient Pali language. It is a term that for Strafella encompasses her experience of this past year. Though there are several translations, the one that resonates for Strafella speaks to the concepts of “seclusion + absorption” (in the words of Buddhist teacher Gil Fronsdal). This past year has been about sheltering in place, staying home, and being alone with ourselves due to the pandemic. Though uncomfortable for many, the time in seclusion from the world provided an opportunity to become absorbed in practice – the practice of mediation, the practice of drawing. Strafella’s studio has been a welcomed refuge to engage with this concept of seclusion + absorption.

Over the years, Strafella’s work has encompassed sculpture, writing, and work on paper. Her “typed” works, for which she is most known, manage to merge all of these dimensions in a process that has produced bodies of work consistent and recognizable since the early ’90s. Strafella applied the repetition of typed punctuation marks—colons, parenthesis, hyphens, and dashes—initially motivated by the results of her misuse of the machine. She began typing to produce a purely visual outcome, developing a language in which words eventually left the page, giving way to drawing.

“In 2003, I worked on an organic farm where I drove a tractor, marking the land with patterns very similar to those I produced with a typewriter. It was a liberating experience about what drawing is,” says the artist. “After years of considering my drawing space as a form of landscape, drawing on the scale of 25-acres had a special meaning for me. There are no limits to drawing in my mind, and it is with this idea of an expanded field, literally and rhetorically, that I engage with the world through my work” – Allyson Strafella, 2019.

Strafella’s work has increasingly found new physical dimensions. The marking process has become more and more reductive and essential, perhaps to the point of disappearance. What is left is paper, folded or trimmed, as solid surfaces of textured colors that are activated in combination with adjacent drawings, forms, and conditions.

The shapes one can glimpse in her drawings appear to result from a different way of observing the surroundings, infused with an illuminated experience of looking. In a year when our relationship with the outside has been so profoundly challenged, the seclusion + absorption that is viveka has proven to be essential.

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