Luisa Rabbia

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Luisa Rabbia, 'Chorus,' 2020. Courtesy the artist.

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Luisa Rabbia, 'Chorus,' 2020 (Detail). Courtesy the artist.

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Luisa Rabbia, 'Chorus,' 2020 (Detail). Courtesy the artist.

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Courtesy the artist.

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Courtesy the artist.

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Courtesy the artist.

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Part 1 of 4

Luisa Rabbia’s artistic practice typically examines natural bodily landscapes—such as veins and belly buttons—which chart essential forms of human connection. During this time of extended isolation, Rabbia seeks to remind us of our interconnectivity and to highlight what brings and keeps us together. While many of us cling to technology to keep us in touch with friends, family, and loved ones, Rabbia looks to the past to inform the present and encourages us to remember what came before. She will incorporate touch and tactility by involving her hand in the work and leaving traces of it through her fingerprints. While Rabbia usually works at a very large scale in her studio, she will adapt these works to a smaller, intimate size in order to fit the new domestic environment she finds herself in. 

Project Statement

"Generally, when I work I feel connected to the world around me. In these days, specifically, making art is helping me to reflect and process, emotionally, the sadness that otherwise would be overwhelming. I am fortunate to be able to walk to my studio, but Homemade was an inspiration to set up my loft apartment as a second working space and reduce my trips to the studio. The precariousness of life, the connection between one and the other as small particles in a vast universe made of time, experiences from the past to the present, from the personal to the collective; these have always been subjects at the core of my work. Since I prefer to let my visual language develop organically, from one day to the other, from one image to the other, for the first few weeks of Homemade Iʼll be sharing drawings and sketches that will lead to one final painting which will inevitably speak of this strange time that seems to be bringing us all together, even while being apart." - Luisa Rabbia

Part 2 of 4

Luisa Rabbia continues her investigations on human touch and connection. Working on a smaller scale, her compositions of abstracted human forms in oil on canvas oscillate between intimate experiences of physical touch and representations of the collective. Her compositions of intertwined figures and forms take on a new meaning in inky violet and blue hues, resembling at once an embrace and expansion into the cosmos. The duality exposed in these moments of intimacy, both in material choices and subject, speaks acutely to the current moment where personal touch and public health are interrelated. Through her finger prints, the gessoed ground for canvases, and her rhythmic scraping into the painted surface, Rabbia leaves traces of herself on the surface, bringing her larger than life forms to human scale. 

Artist Statement

In the neighborhood in Brooklyn where I live and work, there are not many people out on the street, and those who are out are cautiously protected with a mask. I have, therefore, determined that it’s safe to walk to my studio, reachable in 20 minutes without basically interacting with anyone. On my way I experience this neighborhood during this strange time, I can’t see people’s faces but when we cross we look insistently into each other eyes, which is unusual in New York. We try to get a glimpse of each other, impossible with such limited interaction and without facial expressions. 

The images I am presenting this time are a selection of small works, as well as shots of a larger canvas I am preparing with impressions of fingerprints in wet gesso. Certain images, in my experience, require a large format while others work just as well in a small one, but what really matters is to choose the right format for the right image. On a very personal level, the challenge to work on a large format is very energizing for me. While my whole body is involved in the process as I climb up and down the scaffolding, I forget the surrounding, I get sucked into the process, becoming one thing with what I make.

Part 3 of 4

While Luisa Rabbia began this project working on an intimate scale, she has since begun creating a large-scale painting that suits the cosmic nature of the themes she explores. Rabbia’s work profoundly investigates human connection, looking beyond superficial means of being in touch with one another and instead probing at the natural ways in which we are interconnected. Rabbia strategically strips away coats of paint from the surface as she works, a process that mirrors our need to metaphorically remove the layers that obscure our deepest forms of relation in order to return to them. In this painting, Rabbia meditates on the belly button: a body part shared by all humans and a continual reminder of both our connection to past and future generations and of the time it takes to create them.

Artist Statement

In the last couple of weeks, I have been working with oil paint on a canvas that measures 260 x 135 cm. I work by scratching away the wet paint with a sharp tip, engraving lines that reveal what’s underneath. At the center of this large canvas, there is a navel that connects all of the figures within the image, reminding us that we all come from another body that was also connected to another one before in a long chain. One day, a friend told me, “It took million of years to make you, Luisa.” All that time is part of each one of us.

Part 4 of 4

Throughout her work for Homemade, Luisa Rabbia has taught us to examine and understand our experiences as intimately interconnected. As the project closes, and we all (in New York at least) remain physically separated from loved ones and friends, the sentiment of expressing solidarity in our solitude rings clearly and symphonically in her final work. Rabbia’s large scale painting Chorus shows overlapped silhouetted figures that radiate lustrous yellows from the areas where they intersect, highlighting how finding commonality with one another despite our separation can enlighten us. 

Artist Statement

The work I chose to realize on a large scale (260 x 135 cm) shows a group of heads that seem to share the same central body, a place of origin that connects one to the other. I titled this painting “Chorus” because a chorus is made of many different voices, each one unique and essential which only by singing together can create harmony. In a chorus, it is not only important that all singers sing their own song with their own voice, but they also have to listen and feel each other in order to perform together.

About the artist

Luisa Rabbia (b. 1970, Turin, Italy) is an artist whose practice encompasses drawing, painting, sculpture, and video. She is interested in visual expressions that seek a language of kinship, both socially and ecologically. In a world of fragmentation, Rabbia seeks to initiate a discourse that fosters connection and to blur the boundaries between the personal and collective. Rabbia has had solo exhibitions at venues such as Peter Blum Gallery, New York (2018; 2014/15; 2012); Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia (2017); Fondazione Proa, Buenos Aires (2010); Fondazione Merz, Turin (2010); Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venezia (2009); Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (2008); Mario Diacono, Boston (2007). Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Manifesta 12, Palermo (2019); Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (2019); Indiana University Center of Art and Design, Columbus (2017); Lismore Castle, Ireland (2016); Biennale del Disegno, Rimini (2016); Fondazione Merz, Turin (2015); Museo del Novecento, Milan (2012); and Museo MAXXI, Rome (2007), among others. Rabbia lives and works in New York.