Anna Ostoya. Slaying

25 Feb 2016 – 26 Mar 2016

Regular hours

10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00

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Bortolami is pleased to announce Slaying, Anna Ostoya’s third exhibition at the gallery.


In her new paintings and photomontages, the artist deploys Artemisia Gentileschi’s iconic work, Judith Slaying Holofernes, as an image of violence inherent in art and in life. The original painting depicts the story of Judith, a Jewish widow who saves her people besieged by the Assyrian army. With the help of her maidservant, she plies Holofernes, the army general, with alcohol and then beheads him in his drunken state. In these new paintings, Ostoya inspects the crime scene, analyzing it through geometrical abstraction. She substitutes Judith for Holofernes, in Judith Slaying Judith, and Holofernes for Judith, in Holofernes Slaying Holofernes. Each figure attacks itself. These large canvases are accompanied by smaller ones where the artist further analyzes the scene. In Slain Trances, a series of black and white photomontages, Ostoya’s investigation becomes more associative than analytical. She transforms the original painting through surrealist juxtapositions. Gentileschi’s Judith Slaying Holofernes collides with other examples of her work as well as with a painting by Georgia O’Keeffe, a snapshot of Ostoya as a teenager, a still from Possession and an image of a robot. Some photomontages are scraped and painted over, then re-photographed to generate yet other photomontages. Though Judith Slaying Holofernes is known for its feminist interpretations as a revenge of a rape, Gentileschi being raped by her mentor, Ostoya takes on the work to consider violence through and beyond the traditional male – female division. To her, the slaying is of the unknown “other” that endangers the vulnerable “I”. It stands for a visceral striving to define self-identify and integrity against the world with its taboos and its wars. Beheadings are no longer the stuff of myth and legend. Ostoya’s paintings return to Gentileschi’s subject matter now when it most seems like an ominous reflection of life.

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Anna Ostoya


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