Faces, bodies, and flowers can be glimpsed in the depths of uncertain spaces, peeking out from old printed text like “Mastercard Aquisito” or “mobilités.” Residue of daily habits feature prominently in Dispenza’s work, as train tickets, receipts, wrappers, and refuse become canvases for a surplus of orchid renderings. These orchids merge among and punctuate the entire collection of the work exhibited. In her culminating piece “Double Like Tata but Mama Doesn’t Have Them” the artist wittily indicates that while the orchid is deeply charged with notions of femininity, its name, an offshoot of the ancient Greek órkhis, in fact means “testicle,” due to the shape of the twin tubers. Dispenza’s orchids interrupt a gender binary, and with surprising joy and pleasure, compel the onlooker to take a second glance.
Double like tata, simultaneously delights and haunts. Nearly a monochrome collection, her painted forms and drawings embody the atmosphere and transience of a shadow. Like the used tickets, her densely worked paintings and airy line drawings gesture with equal resolve toward the frustration and impossibility of reclaiming time and space. And yet her access points are some of the most common and fundamental collective habits—sitting, transit, and the tactile refuse of memory.
Dispenza explains: “I work through a lot of repetition. So even though the formal qualities change, I’ve actually been painting through the same ideas since about 2013. It’s the point where complementary ideas meet, and bleed into each other. I think, for instance, you could look at some of my paintings and question whether the figures were intimate or violent; sharing a meal or eating alone; sleeping or failing to sleep, and so on. For whatever reason these daily habits keep re-emerging in my work. And while as headers they might seem mundane, they are things we all live through. I’m pairing out the situations as opposites, but as I work through them, I find that they are positioned across a continuum for me, and are vastly complex, overlapping, and fragile even.”
Gianna Dispenza graduated from the San Francisco Art institute in 2014 with a BFA in sculpture and is currently living in London, completing her MA at the Royal College of Art. Her works have been shown across the USA, UK, Italy, France, South Korea, and Lebanon and among institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and Saatchi Gallery.