As the daughter of an architect working for the United Nations, artist Diana González Gandolfi grew up in many different countries and in many different homes. She learned early in life how to make home wherever she happened to be.
This life experience of being uprooted and moving among various cultures shapes the overriding theme of González Gandolfi’s solo exhibition, Navigated Territories.
“The experience of geographic and temporal separation from the place I once called home is central to much of my recent work,” she said. “The works in this series specifically relate to these experiences of being uprooted and in transition, of moving from a known singular place to a layered world where multiple cultures and geographies competed and connected.”
All the paintings and prints featured in the exhibition are autobiographical and are part of a series that focuses on memory, identity and place. The images are full of familial, cultural and political influences while metaphorically exploring issues about separation, alienation, loss, political injustices and mortality.
“In this series, I use map imagery of places I grew up, visited or lived in as backdrops for personal narratives,” González Gandolfi said. “The works all relate to each other like a storyboard yet each individual piece has its own narrative and geography.
“I use maps metaphorically to represent these journeys,” she added. “Maps are wonderful vehicles to explore all sorts of things, and it is my hope that viewers of this exhibition will explore not only my journeys but also leave this show with an awakened interest in exploring new paths of their own.”
The triptych Trinity of Memories – the largest piece exhibited – is central to the meaning of the entire show. “It is about connections and navigating difficult moments in life with the assistance and caring of loved ones,” González Gandolfi said. “It is about transitions and traversing across uncontrollable life situations.”
The works in the show are all hybrids of drawing, painting and printmaking with a printed image used as a base. The framed paper pieces are either monotypes or encaustic collagraphs reworked with watercolor and pencil. The works on panel are all mixed media layered and start as encaustic collagraphs or monotype prints. These pieces are then attached to wood panels and reworked with layers of encaustic medium, collage elements, pigmented wax, graphite, watercolor and pigment stick.
“The use of encaustic as a painting medium is both ancient and modern,” said Hildreth York, who is curating this exhibition with Ingrid Renard. “Traditionally, beeswax has been used as the vehicle for pigment, and heat as the means to adhere, layer, fuse and texture the elements and images created. Diana González Gandolfi is a consummate master of this art form. Her art is physically and conceptually layered. Rich surfaces reveal formal structures underlying intuitive and painterly responses to life and memories.”
González Gandolfi’s work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout the United States since 1978. She has received awards, fellowships and residencies from various institutions, including two Boston Museum of Fine Arts Traveling Fellowships, a NJ State Council on the Arts Distinguished Artist Award and Fellowship for Printmaking, and two NJ State Council on the Arts Painting Fellowships.
The exhibition runs through Sept. 4.
Featured Image: Diana González Gandolfi, Forgotten But Now Remembered: 1985 Argentina, 2014, Pigmented wax and pigment stick over encaustic collagraph mounted on panel, Diptych overall size: 40” x 60” x 2” (2 panels 40” x 30” x 2” with no space in between), Courtesy of the artist.