In the News

The Boston Globe

"Panels discussion"
By Sebastian Smee

Francesca DiMattio has been commissioned to do the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall in the foyer of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.

Q. Your images pull a lot of seemingly dissonant or unrelated things together. What does your studio look like?

A. My studio is a mess. When I am working on a piece, especially one this large, it can get pretty nuts — ripped images and ripped up books all over the floor and paint everywhere. My filing system for images is a bunch of round colored baskets on the floor. One basket has still life imagery, another floor tiles.

Q. How much time did you have to make this work for the ICA?

A. I was first asked in October but was in the middle of working on an exhibition at the time. I did my first site visit in February and began working on the piece right after that. I had to see the space itself before deciding what form the project would take. I decided to make five separate panels that are installed right next to each other as one piece. Certain imagery runs from one panel to the next while other imagery stops at the edge. I moved them around while working on them so some imagery runs between panels that aren’t hung next to each other.

Q. What inspired the painting’s subject matter?

A. When I first came to visit the ICA I was struck by its dramatic placement on the bay. The floor-to-ceiling glass walls in the lobby blurred the border between inside and outside. You feel that, too, in the media lab which shows the water without sky or horizon — it creates a very disorienting space. I was inspired by this — it’s why I incorporated imagery signifying outside (cranes, ships, water, and sky) as well as imagery signifying interior space (tile, floors, tables, ladders, and chairs).

Q. What other artists have you been looking at recently?

A. For this piece, in particular, I looked at a lot of different representations of still life. I looked at still lifes by Matisse, Picasso, Manet. I looked at folk art and quilt imagery from the 1800s. I wanted to build a sculptural pile of tables and chairs from different eras and have different representations of still life sit on top of one another. It’s both a rich banquet and a pile of discarded material. . . . It could be a representation of the beginnings of a party or the aftermath of a hurricane.

Q. Where else do you get your inspiration?

A. I get a lot of inspiration from different crafts. Baskets, lace, quilts, needlepoint. Most feminine craft has an element of construction to it, and I use the idea of woven construction in my paintings. The imagery is tangled in an up-and-down rhythm, making a kind of basket. All of the images I choose have the same underlying grid structures and can be woven together.

Interview was condensed and edited.


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