MERCER CHANCE GALLERY is proud to present an exhibition of drawings by young artist Michelle Cioccoloni, a recent graduate of the Royal Drawing School, London. In 2014 she received the Richard Ford Award, a travel scholarship for figurative artists to travel to Spain in order to study the Spanish Masters. Michelle has recently returned from three-months of intensive practice-based research at the Museo del Prado, in Madrid. Drawing from the paintings in the museum's vast collection, Michelle was able to carry out in-depth study of works by El Greco, Velázquez and Goya.
During her time at the Prado, Michelle used drawing to investigate each piece, using the hand and eye to lead the mind toward a deeper understanding and appreciation of the artist’s conception. Translating paintings into drawings requires the artist to condense the painting’s structure and effects into a form that reveals the essence of its meaning.
It is not a process of replication or simplification, nor can it be considered reductionist, since the artist seeks to chart the relations between the elements of a picture in order to arrive at its meaning as a whole. In that respect it is also perhaps a circular process; in a painting’s initial impact upon us, we perceive it as a whole - a dramatic perceptual event - then, through our prolonged study we break it apart in order to put it back together and learn its secrets.
In her drawings Michelle has successfully combined these two modes of perception through a masterful and intuitive marriage of line and tone. Each drawing exposes the essential ideas expressed formally within the painting, whilst also conveying a feeling of it’s immediate sensational impact.
Michelle soon realized that “the prevailing mood of the collection had a strong dramatic component, with extreme emotions, extreme passions... often the result of strong contrasts between light and shadow. What most pictures in the ‘Spanish Manner’ seem to share is a sense of desperation”. You would imagine that creating sustained studies of these dark, psychologically intense imaginative worlds would take its toll on the artist, yet we sense Michelle fearlessly squaring up to them, utterly composed, emerging with a piece of her own that is ruthless and direct in its enquiry, yet nuanced and beautiful in its execution.
Working from Goya’s ‘Black Paintings’ was captivating and revelatory. Michelle: “I was able to linger over every face for quite some time and scrutinize every part of the picture. The longer I spent looking at them, the more contradictions I noticed, especially in the way [Goya] renders the forms and features.” The people in his late paintings are effortlessly, economically described, yet unquestionably there. Their form is utterly palpable whilst equally beguiling, distorted by motion and emotion into bizarre semi-human shapes. Michelle has investigated these forms by making a series of sculptural heads from her drawings, physically manifesting the strange logic of the artist’s imaginative vision.
Michelle is an artist and educator, born in the United Kingdom but raised in Italy, which aided her understanding of the depth and meaning of art in its historical context. She currently teaches young students at The National Gallery, London. Since graduating with a First Class degree in Drawing and Applied Arts from UWE Bristol, Michelle has studied on The Drawing Year, a one-year MA-level postgraduate course at The Royal Drawing School, London. Michelle has completed artist residencies in Salzburg, Austria and Dumfries House in Scotland.
Public Opening (free event, all welcome): Thursday 4th June 7 -10pm
Late Opening: Friday 5th June 11am-9pm
SPECIAL EVENT: ARTIST TALK
Sunday 14th June 6:00 - 7:30pm
An informal tour of the exhibition with the artist; a rare chance to view the artist’s sketchbooks and hear about the distinct approach she developed during her three month residency at The Prado Museum.
Free, booking essential ( firstname.lastname@example.org , 07715816779 )
Exhibition continues until Sunday 14th June.
Gallery Opening Hours:
11am-6pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Monday to Friday by appointment only, please call Rachel on 07715816779
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