Incorporating elements of sculpture, painting, graphic design, and architecture, Leah Guadagnoli's whimsical, idiosyncratic works defy easy classification. The artist's work expands on the Pop tradition by making use of readymade imagery and quotidian materials. Often drawing on the aesthetics of her Midwestern upbringing, the artist appropriates designs and patterns from the 80s' and 90s' — often considered kitschy — presenting them in fresh and dynamic ways. Guadagnoli's creations are inherently accessible; they reference the "outdated yet irresistible aesthetic" of public spaces such as waiting rooms, movie theatres, bus seats, and casinos (1). A clear aesthetic descendant of Ruth Root and the Memphis Group, Guadagnoli reinterprets this imagery through a lens that is both nostalgic and forward-looking. Her work strikes a balance between hard-edged geometrical precision and free-form patterns. The result has a certain levity, as disparate materials "come together to form upbeat, balanced wholes, perhaps providing us with a small dose of necessary idealism." (2)Read More
Though the artist's constructions often make use of prints and patterns that exist within an established design tradition, the fabrics are not themselves vintage — she uses IIlustrator to digitally design and then hand-prints them. Her process brings together painted pumice stone, plexiglass, acrylic-painted canvas, and geometric textiles wrapped around foam insulation. Here the source materials are removed from their utilitarian origins and deconstructed both physically and conceptually. In the bringing together of heterogeneous materials and imagery, Guadagnoli breaks down our associations of how these objects should function. Though these media come together harmoniously, the existence of their individual properties is emphasized; this visibility of the process and composition stands in sharp contrast to the industrial, mass-produced, and mass-consuming society for which these objects and images were intended.
Guadagnoli received her BFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and completed her MFA at Rutgers in 2014. She has been in numerous group shows and solo presentations, most recently including "Soft Violence" at the Asya Gesiberg Gallery, New York (2019) and "I Just Want to See You Underwater" at Victori + Mo Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn (2018). Guadagnoli is also dedicated to arts education and was a part-time lecturer at the Mason Gross School of Art, NJ, and the Founder of the Maple Terrace Artist Residency and Mentorship Program, NY.
1.Danny Brody, "Leah Guadagnoli Just Wants To See You Underwater." Quiet Lunch. June 5, 2018. https://www.quietlunch.com/leah-guadagnoli-just-wants-to-see-you-underwater/ 2.Kate Menard, "Leah Guadagnoli's " I Just Want to See Underwater" at Victori + Mo." Art Fuse. June 10, 2018. https://artefuse.com/2018/07/10/leah-guadagnolis-just-want-see-underwater-victori-mo-125600/
Text courtesy Hollis Taggart.