Dianna Molzan is a snout-to-tail kind of artist. Interested in utilising all that is made available when operating under the title of painter, nothing in a painting’s material construction is left unemployed.
In the LA-based artist’s new exhibition at Kaufmann Repetto, the works may all differ formally but their essential components remain the same. The typical hierarchy of materials that make up a painting (paint – the usual protagonist; textile; wooden support) is not present in Molzan’s work, for all play equal parts. The exhibition performs as a bildungsroman of sorts — a line-up of mute characters that shape-shift from one genre to another — that in its parity risks amounting to a survey of possibilities.
The strongest pieces here show Molzan economically doing away with the canvas as the principal surface and applying paint straight onto wooden ‘stretchers’ (this term is used loosely for there is little to stretch!). The congruity of a surface and its support is left confused; now melded, they both serve and nullify each other. The interest of these works lies in their engrossed consumption of their own production and confused materiality, so much so that the pieces we can recognise more conventionally as possessing an image may deliver as an indulgence.
Molzan’s promotion of painting’s unsung components and its very nuts and bolts has resulted in a labelling of her pieces as ‘painting-objects’. This is a redundant term, for the activity and product of painting is fundamentally sculptural and always has been. The claim of the ‘two-dimensional’ picture plane upon which an image is projected was long ago taken to trial.
Painting is object-based at its most elemental level and as such, Molzan’s works have not manifested into a hybrid form previously unknown to the medium. Instead, these paintings are inadvertently, unashamedly exposing themselves, forcing our attention to shift to the mechanics lying beyond the uppermost surface.
Dianna Molzan: Earthquake Weather is showing at Kaufmann Repetto until 12 November. All images courtesy: the artist and kaufmann repetto, Milano/New York. Photography: Andrea Rossetti