14 November 2006 – 14 February 2007
Mon-Fri 11-19, closed Sundays and holidays
Saturday by appointment only
Galleria Paolo Curti/Annamaria Gambuzzi & Co. is proud to present the
exhibition by the American artist Heidi McFall, opening on 14 November at
Via Pontaccio 19 in Milan.
Is there still a possibility, in the era of high-resolution images and
digital manipulation, for a painter to concentrate on portraiture? Heidi
McFall (1974, Dewitt, Idaho, USA, lives and works in San Antonio) thinks so,
though it might not seem obvious at first glance.
Her paintings, in fact,
bear a striking resemblance to photographs, and this might be interpreted as
a statement of the surrender of painting to the overwhelming power of
technology. But artists have always mined the collective image-bank, and
since we are living in a civilization of images, McFall starts with
photographs and gives them new life.
Her mastery of the use of charcoal and pastels is applied not so much to the
realistic representation of physiognomy as to imitation of the effects of
overexposure or excessive contrast in photography. This is not just a
demonstration of skill, because like the prevalent use of black and white
for the figures, it reflects a desire to eliminate all superfluous details,
making us concentrate on the psychology of the depicted subjects.
Intense blue, luminous orange and warm red tones often fill the background.
These areas are so dense and laden with color that the contrast with the
shaded, matte tones of the figures produces a sort of spark that gives them
life and energy. The backgrounds also have the job of underlining the mood
and character of the subjects while strengthening the overall composition.
For this reason, they do not create an enveloping atmosphere, but a true
backdrop against which the figures stand out, an effect that is accentuated
by the almost total absence of references to landscape or context.
Heidi McFall also makes use of the collage technique to obtain her effects.
Cutting out and reassembling individual portraits, the artist investigates
the relationships among her subjects. When the technique is applied to just
one subject, it enables her to delve deeper into that personality. The
collage also has another effect: the persons are left isolated from one
another. While this ensures that each of them can maintain their
individuality even when interacting with the others, it also suggests the
impossibility of complete mutual comprehension.
The exhibition is composed of nine works, most of them in a large format
(122x183 cm), in which groups of three subjects alternate with individual
figures. Laughing women, carefree girls, dreamy gazes directed toward an
unknown horizon, between heaven and earth. In these portraits the artist’s
expressive force creates a cutaway, capturing an instant in which time seems
to have stopped; an entire life, all the various existences of the people
depicted, are immobilized in the simplicity of an everyday world.
Heidi McFall has shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO, in the
exhibition Decades of Influence, and at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary
Art, Boulder, CO, in the show Colorado 2000.
The artist will attend the opening