For immediate release: April 5 – May 1, 2012
“(Not) Plain Sight: The Paintings of Joanie Gagnon San Chirico”
The work of Joanie Gagnon San Chirico is rooted in concerns with environmental preservation and the far-reaching (and often unintended) effects of human habitation and civilization. Her paintings (and they are paintings) combine linear gesture and thin layers of color with stitching to evoke locations that read as real and specific to the viewer, but are ultimately fictional. The fictional nature of her space and imagery allows her to engage broader political issues without the need to construct facile narratives or parables. Particularly interesting are the consequences of scale, as the micro-culture of instant gratification and the macro-effects of pollution and energy inefficiency are mirrored in paintings of microscopic spores and algae whose threat can only be fully understood when photographed via orbiting satellite. For the artist working alone in her studio, her beautiful surfaces belie a deep concern that the underlying structure (of nature, of our society and culture) is ill-equipped to support what we heap upon it.
Just as her use of needle and thread connects her to a lineage of feminist political activism that was often shrouded by the formal concerns of domestic arts, Joanie Gagnon San Chirico makes artwork in which the agenda is never compromised, but may be misunderstood or ignored by those who commission it. She primarily functions within the public realm, yet subverts the desire for a pretty picture (the Matissean armchair) with an activist’s desire that the work’s true nature might be divined from those who delve below the surface. Here subterfuge is unnecessary, and we can celebrate the conviction of the work’s deeper intent.
Joanie Gagnon San Chirico’s work, including her public commissions and work for private spaces, can be explored in depth on her website: http://joaniesanchirico.blogspot.com/
The Extra Gallery is an art space that occurs at odd intervals in a semi-private Chelsea location. The space is located at 635 West 27th St. Please enter the door and press the buzzer to the right to be admitted to the second floor lobby.