UNWEAVE A RAINBOW
VITO SCHNABEL PROJECT
OCTOBER 1, 2020 - JANUARY 16, 2021
Opening October 1, 2020, Vito Schnabel Projects will present Ariana Papademetropoulos: Unweave a Rainbow, the first New York City solo exhibition for the Los Angeles-based artist. Unweave a Rainbow will debut a new series of large-scale works by the artist, in which she mingles images of natural phenomena with her meditations on interiorsas analogs. The exhibition will also feature new small-scale additions toher on going series of ‘symbolist’ paintings.
Unweave a Rainbowtakes its title from the work of nineteenth-century English poet John Keats, who denounced physicist and astronomer Sir Isaac Newton for emptying rainbows of their poetry by explaining inscientific terms the phenomenon of refraction and its effects on humanvisual perception. Keats felt such information undermined the pleasure of seeing a rainbow in the sky by “reducing it to prismatic colors.” Inspite of being thus unwoven, the rainbow persists as a symbol of childlike hope and future promise. Its meaning is bound betweenspiritual interpretation and scientific discovery, much as Papademetropoulos’ painting is bound between depiction and suggestion,realism and fantasy.Papademetropoulos will transform the gallery’s space into a total environment, an enclosed sensual world of plush orange carpetingand sculptural modular floor cushions comprising rainbows. The velvet cushions, arranged in the corners of the room, can be takenapart and moved around, intended for viewers to lounge on the unwoven rainbow while taking in the prismatic color and uncannycontent of her paintings. Visitors will find themselves in one of the artist’s constructed scenes, while the paintings become portals intoother worlds, much like Papademetropoulos’ bubbles.Ariana Papademetropoulos is known for exploring the psychological effects of interiors and domestic spaces. Evoking a sense of shiftingrealities and parallel worlds, she depicts dream-like hyperreal scenes of lavish rooms that are often eerily empty of human presence.The surface of her imagery is usually ruptured by a large, soft-focus watermark or spill that introduces alternate dimensions of dazzlingcolor. By piercing the illusion of her own underlying composition, Papademetropoulos captures the experience of awakening from avivid but elusive dream, to find oneself still teetering between parallel realities. In the new paintings on view inUnweave a Rainbow,the watermarks and spills of earlier canvases are replaced by large bubbles that hover somewhat ominously in the visual frame andtransport the viewer to a place and time beyond the painting’s basic subject matter. Enigmatic but insistent, these apparitions suggesta state of reverie animated by nostalgia.Rooted in hyperrealism, Papademetropoulos’ art implores illusion to collapse realities into surreal tableaux of flux, transience, andcontradiction. Her canvases hold space for both reality and fantasy, for the impossible and possible to collide or coexist. In her latestpaintings, quiet and wistful microcosmic worlds are contained with giant soap bubbles, a common motif in the history of art that becamepopular in seventeenth-century Dutch vanitas paintings as allegorical representations of fleeting time and the fragility of life. Theact of blowing bubbles, most commonly associated with children, was relieved of its somber burden in the eighteenth century by theFrench painter Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin. In his genre paintings, the bubble shifted from a moralizing emblem to one replete withlightness, wistfulness, and longing for youthful innocence. In Espulsione dalla discoteca (2020), the first of three monumental paintings debuting inUnweave a Rainbow, Papademetropoulosdepicts the exterior of an abandoned house cast in eerie shadows. While the windows of this home are darkened and a spectacularcloud of mustard smoke obscures the architecture and landscape, a bubble hovers in the foreground containing an alternate realm: itsiridescent surface of glittering scarlet, violet, plum, and gold enclose an enchanting English garden populated with a leafy bench andbed of flowers. Papademetropoulos, who draws inspiration from magazines and books, has here been influenced by an image from aback issue of National Geographic Magazine. Countering its depiction of the forest devastation that was inflicted by the widespread use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, the artist has here married an idyllic moment of pastoral bliss with the danger of an ominous fog.