Giuditta R “The artist of humanness in search of light”
By Denise Carvalho
Giuditta R’s work redefines the way an artist downloads from the psychological influences of one’s world. This will be explained later in the essay. Her method, however, follows a sense of continuum. In her series of black and white drawings, the figurative subject matter is often children represented through innocent but mischievous circumstances, or just as if they would be sitting for a photo yet nothing is hidden in what can be seen. Other times, doubles or even single portraits can be more grotesque as innocent aspects of the child’s psyche are overshadowed by the perversive intention of an adult.
perhaps is the most fascinating aspect of her work. In contrast to this complex aspect of her content, her method seems quite direct, borrowed from portrait photography, mostly from unknown sources and more often from group portraits. There is something unsettling in her use of the portrait that reminds us of the work of the British photographer Diane Arbus, but also the latter’s sense of timelessness rather than the immediacy that a portrait photographer often intends.
That timelessness in Giuditta R’s is emphasized through her use of black and white graphite, although her approach drawing from the snapshot is that the figures are intentionally caught in the act, although not intimidated by the viewer’s lens. There is nothing hidden in the artist’s drawings of children as if she is herself staring at the shadow parts of an adult with the innocence of her own childhood.
That duality between innocence versus shadow, or hidden versus overtly displayed plays an important part in the perception of portraits that leave us viewers with the question of whether what we see is ourselves projected in the image. In a way, to look at her work is to work on ourselves, questioning our own pretense in being vis-à-vis the phantasy which we all carry in play, as art is, despite of all difficulties of the artistic process, merely play. In the group portraits of children titled Drops of Madness, for example, we can see the holding of the pose of an adult trying to fit into the mode of the picture.
But we also see that of mockery and play enmeshed with the seriousness that a portrait entails, almost as if we are questioning our own adult methods of make-belief, portraits being one of them, in which a sense of order is indicated in respect to the establishment of the photo itself. It is interesting to remember that in the history of art, photography plays an important part in establishing a shift from the divinely illusiveness of painting of previous centuries to that of mass produced ideas in art; the artist/photographer in forefront of major social changes in the production of art as both a witness of the social turn and an autonomous entrepreneur of his/her own creative work. The point of photography’s influence in Giuditta R’s work is clearly connected to highlighting the messy social confluence between painting and photography, which quickly moved from being the aura of beauty to the arena of materialist competition in which the concept of redefined representation is superseded by that of media-influenced imitation. Maybe, Giuditta’s favorite method of work of the drawing, rather than painting or photography, shows her intention as being between these two possibilities, neither representation nor mimesis. This allows the artist to enter a different starting point regarding her subject matter, moving away from the social space, or even the theorized generalizations of historical portraits of children from ethnic or racially motivated wars to something more personal and psychological, but also more human. Her drawings are portraits yes, but they are also poems of wonder and despair in which we are all part of. In Giuditta R’s portraits, color is added as a subtle shift in our perception of similarities between doubles, for example, or as the uniqueness of one character within a group portrait, a more subjective clue that only the artist might identify, leaving it open so the viewer can wonder about what could entail one’s human uniqueness. Finally, Giuditta R’s process is something one would perceive as almost shamanistic, as if she draws from the ether to create her characters.
Perhaps some could be products of her own childhood dreams or nightmares, both inspirational and cathartic. Not every artist would take this direction to find truth.
Most artists today would look outside, to their social or natural environment, or inside their own memories as ways to redefine their limiting or erroneous perceptions. With Giuditta R, however, the truth is somewhere in the limbic state between one’s own psyche and that of the collective spectrum, in which memory image is perceived in the process almost as if seen in the cracked paint of the ceiling or onto the oil pull on a street curb, purely by chance. Her practice clearly entails her own ability to be outside herself while observing what is taking place with the graphite on the paper, appearing almost by magic, yet it is not magic, but a product of reflection and observation, almost a form of meditation that is a part of the process itself.
Never judging or predicting, never defining until it defines itself.
It is like seeing one draft until the next moves are insighted, not mimesis nor representation.
There is generosity and trust in her practice, and maybe not only to what art is or should be, but to how we see ourselves, definitely with more generosity, more acceptance of our shadows and lights as part of the grand scheme of human development. Her process realign us with our humanness in which all allowances are part of a higher learning.
In ordine orario:
Catrina's Secret - pencils and mixed on paper
Bad students - pencils and mixed on paper She came in like an obsession II - pencils and mixed on paper
Our deepest secret - pencils and mixed on paper
Alba's Secret - pencils and mixed on paper
A genetic secret - pencils and mixed on paper
Dr. Denise Carvalho is a New York-based artist, curator, art critic and scholar who lives and works in the United States. She holds a Ph.D. in cultural studies, M.A. in art history from the University of California, Davis, a Masters in anthropology from Hunter College, and a B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts. As an art critic, Dr. Carvalho has published numerous articles and reviews in art magazines and journals, including Art in America, Sculpture, Art Nexus, NKA Journal of African Contemporary Art, Afterimage, and The International Journal of Art and Society, as well as in several artists’ catalogues. Her curatorial accomplishments are extensive, with exhibitions at the Meditations Biennial in Poland, Art Institute in San Diego, the Chelsea Art Museum in New York City, Museum of Telecommunications Oi Futuro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Smack Mellon (NY), Dumbo Arts Center, just to cite a few. Dr. Carvalho is also an independent scholar and has taught at universities in the United States, including Indiana University in Bloomington, Ohio State University, School of Visual Arts, Fashion Institute of Technology, Institute of Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts, New Jersey City University, Pratt Institute, San Francisco State University, Humboldt State, and CSI CUNY. Dr. Denise Carvalho has curated international exhibitions and symposia. Her curatorial projects explore current theoretical issues through multimedia works. She has curated shows in Oi Futuro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Galeria Arsenal in Bialystok, Poland, Art Institute in San Diego as part of the Postglobal Biennial, the 3rd Mediations Biennale in Poznan, with exhibitions at the National Museum, the Jesuit Gallery, the Zamek Culture Centre, and the Archdiocesan Museum, at the Chelsea Museum, at White Box, NYC, at Momenta Art in Brooklyn, NY, at Galeria Arsenal, Bialystok, Poland, at the Chelsea Museum, NYC just to name a few.