RWB, 2015
48 x 4 inches
 oil, acrylic, upholstery, fabric, canvas, and
​polyurethane foam on insulation board

Dancing in My Underpants: On the Emergence of Leah Guadagnoli

by Chiara Harrison Lambe

The road to fame is a complicated one, particularly today. In our digital age, the rise to stardom tends to look something like this: your favorite band shares the song you recorded as a tribute to them on their social media, propelling you to success. A thirty-​​second video of you goes viral overnight and suddenly you are a bona fide YouTube celebrity. You launch a Kickstarter to fund your latest and greatest personal project; the campaign unexpectedly makes five, ten, or even twenty times its original goal, and all eyes are on you.

All this, of course, only happens to a lucky few – but sometimes, and increasingly with the help of the Internet, lightning strikes. The New York gallery 247365 (24/​7, 365) approached Chicago-​​born artist Leah Guadagnoli in the fall of 2015 after discovering her paintings through her website. Ms. Guadagnoli, b. 1989, lives and works in Brooklyn. She earned her MFA from Mason Gross School of Art at Rutgers University in 2014 and recently completed a residency at Yaddo, an artists’ community in Saratoga Springs, New York. In December, two of her paintings appeared in 247365’s booth at New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) Miami Beach. Both promptly sold, an indication of great things to come for this young artist.

Addison Assassin,  
wall paint, oil, molding paste, upholstery, canvas,
and polyurethane foam on insulation board

Addison Assassin”, 2015
 — 57 x 35 x 4 ½ inches — 
wall paint, oil, molding paste, upholstery, canvas 
and polyurethane foam on insulation board.

Guadagnoli’s first solo exhibition, titled Addison Assassin, opened Friday, January 8th at 247365, located in New York’s Lower East Side (details at end of article), and is set to close on February 7th, 2016. The title of the exhibition references the small village of Addison, located west of Chicago, where the artist spent much of her childhood. The exhibition also shares its name with one of Guadagnoli’s paintings that sold at NADA Miami Beach: “I wanted it to be there in spirit,” she said.

The exhibition itself, like its alliterative title, makes an immediate, bold statement. Her sculptural paintings break from the mold with their bright colors, unique patterns, strong geometric shapes, and careful use of negative space. The scale of the artworks ranges from 55 to 72 inches. Guadagnoli uses a combination of paint, fabric, upholstery, and furniture padding to achieve her final product: an asymmetrical abstract painting that leaves the conventions of her medium far behind her. Her work wrests free from the picture frame, jutting out from the wall – in some cases as much as 8 inches – as objects in their own right. Using patterns and materials that recall floor and wall coverings found in public interior spaces from the 80s and 90s, such as cinemas, casinos, and waiting rooms, her paintings look at the anti-​​aesthetic of the recent past to confront notions of taste, exclusivity, and social convention. Despite the variety of materials employed and the three-​​dimensional quality of the work, the artist insists that these pieces be classified as painting, rather than sculpture or assemblage. Although Guadagnoli’s work surely descends from Pop Art, it also recalls the Abstract Expressionist wall assemblages of John Chamberlain, with a touch of Braque.

Slow Dance in My Underpants, 2015 ​72 x 58 x 7 inches  oil, acrylic, fabric, pumice stone, canvas, wood,  ​and polyurethane foam on insulation board

Slow Dance in My Underpants”, 2015 — ​72 x 58 x 7 inches — oil, acrylic, fabric, pumice stone, canvas, wood, ​and polyurethane foam on insulation board

Hung opposite the entrance, Guadagnoli’s piece Slow Dance in My Underpants, with its maniacally buoyant color palette, greets all who enter 247365’s intimate space at 57 Stanton Street. This almost alphabetical painting arrests the eye as a contradiction: its varied surface seems to encourage interaction and yet, as a painting, it asks to be examined at a safe distance. “People always try to go up and touch them, and I think it is for two reasons,” the artist explained to me: “they are plush and it is difficult to tell which parts are painted and which parts are fabric.”

Each painting is presented without wall text; knowing their measurements and makeup, as well as their titles (which range from the succinct, Paradise and Channel 46, to the thought-​​provoking, It Rhymes with Shadow and I Was In The Future Yesterday), requires an examination of the checklist. This subtle element of mystery only adds to the impression that these works somehow burst into existence whole, no one part emerging before the rest. Is it the shape that inspires the color, the title that inspires the pattern? When asked about her process, Guadagnoli said, “I usually start with line drawings of the forms. Then I go through the piles of fabric I collect to see which one seems like the best fit. I have, however, begun designing and printing my fabric to gain more control over the patterns.”

"My Dad’s Favorite Color is Purple", 2015 - 72 x 43 x 7 inches - oil, acrylic, fabric, vinyl upholstery, molding paste, orange peel wall texture, canvas and polyurethane foam on insulation board

My Dad’s Favorite Color is Purple”, 2015 — 72 x 43 x 7 inches — oil, acrylic, fabric, vinyl upholstery, molding paste, orange peel wall texture, canvas and polyurethane foam on insulation board

In My Dad’s Favorite Color is Purple, Guadagnoli continues to play with pattern, shape, and orientation. The alignment of each individual piece is offset by the interplay of different fabrics, drawing the eye in a full rotation around the central two-​​tone circle. Distracted by the painting’s many surfaces and multiple levels, it is difficult to think of where her nontraditional painting materials – such as the fabric, vinyl upholstery, and orange peel wall texture – may have originally belonged, before finding new life in her studio. But life they have found – and it seems that Guadagnoli’s unique approach may propel her into that stratosphere of the art world that remains a dream for the majority of emerging artists. For further information on the exhibition and the gallery, please scroll down.

Addison Assassin - Installation at 247365 Gallery

Addison Assassin — Installation at 247365 Gallery

Leah Guadagnoli -  Addison Assassin -  On view
: 1/​8 – 2/​7, 2016
, 57 Stanton St
, NY. NY, 10002

Open Wednesday though Sunday, 12 – 6pm -
Email — communications@​twentyfourseventhreesixtyfive.​biz

Artist’s website: Here

Featured image: RWB, 2015 – 56 x 48 x 4 inches. Oil, acrylic, upholstery, fabric, canvas, and polyurethane foam on insulation board.

All images are courtesy of the artist and 247365.

IMG_4167Chiara Harrison Lambe was born in Ireland, raised in the Hudson Valley, and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. She holds a degree in Art History from Bard College.



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