FOCUS BIENNALE: PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG GIRL(S) | ALLISON KATZ
A little girl doubles, triples and it almost seems that a fourth copy of her emerges among the others. The artist Allison Katz, in this series of paintings offers a work based on the daily life and on the clichés related to the city of Venice. InPortrait of the artist as a young girl(s) (2021) the artist has as an initial reference a photographic self-portrait, made with a multiple exposure. In this case, painting is used to mimic and simulate the photographic rendering, playing on the different levels of the possible representations of reality.
A childish figure hides under a red raincoat: the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood, with the image of infantile innocence, is revealed. But the space of the canvas, and at the sametime the overlapping of the figure, is also quoting the protagonist of Don’t Look Now, a 1973 film by director Nicolas Roeg. The film characterized by a pictorial rendering of the sequences, has as its object the murder of a little girl. The artist’s transposition of iconic elements into the personal dimension is resolved by using them as elements of passage in adult life – the wolf of little red riding hood and the death of the child … violence, as in the case of the fairy tale or filmic fiction, is instrumental to the metaphorical and conceptual representation of rites of passage.
Whether it is the artist, Little Red Riding Hood or the protagonist of the film, the subject of Portrait of the artist as a young girl(s), takes the stage inhabiting different identities and builds a real autofiction in which the boundaries of experience and personal artists fade into a kaleidoscopic vision. The city of Venice is the real and conceptual background, suggested and experienced, where fiction, history, fairy tale and scenography are brought to everyday life. The artist herself is a child who reproduces and searches for her own identity.
Everyday reality is dematerialized and modeled through painting which, however, is filtered by cinema and photography, as if to move on multiple stylistic levels in the construction of a figurative complexity in which Allison Katz dissolves different narratives. The little girl’s faces look at us, as if to shout a personal and intimate confession that the artist embeds in the canvas: a perfect union between technical experimentation and narrative.
Allison Katz, Portrait of the artist as a young girl(s), 2022, Oil and Acrylic on linen, 230x150cm. Photo by: Roberto Marossi, © Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia