'My Heroine And Her Mate', Dorothy Iannone, Peres Projects, Berlin

A review of “My Heroine And Her Mate,” exhibiting at Peres Projects January 17 – February 28.

written by Jeffrey Grunthaner in Berlin

Contemporary paintings, insofar as they take their cues from the collage-like flatness conditioned by a computer screen, have an inclusiveness about them resembling glass tanks full of compendious stuff—an assortment of gestural brush work, quasi-geometric shapes and graduated contours. Looking at the early work of Dorothy Iannone, however, whose show “My Heroine And Her Mate” is currently exhibiting at Peres Projects in Berlin, we can’t help but appreciate the pre-digital texturing that was dependent on Ab-Exy type abstraction.

Dorothy Iannone
"My Heroine And Her Mate" (1962)
Painting - Oil, paper collage, acrylic on canvas
164 x 151 cm (64.57 x 59.45 in)

Iannone’s early paintings have an urbanity about them that belies the love-haunted connotations of their titles, retailoring conventionally dead-end forms of abstraction to suit the aspirations of her highly individualized eroticism and wit.

Layered with almost cartographic designs—like cubistic grids become both plastic and deliquescent—Iannone’s paintings brim with ebullient confidence, underwritten by the fact that most of the pieces in the show were made in 1962 (the others date from 1963 and 1964). Lingering over these early works, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Joe Brainard’s poetic dictum that his paintings be “present.” Regarding Iannone, this translates into canvases so thick with paint and collaged materials (even wall paper, to my eyes at least) that they literally come off the canvas and occupy a space one with the viewer’s body.

While not especially large by today’s standards (Trudy Benson certainly goes much larger), Ionnone’s painterly declarations of love radiate an intimacy that can only be accounted for by the way her materials (mainly acrylic) are shaped into tactile relief on canvas.

The young Iannone tended to develop compositions without any clear locus or center, keeping her paintings in a perpetual state of movement, making her themes (however abstractly presented) interesting still circa 2015. “Secret Blossom” (1962) was one painting I returned to numerous times at the opening. It’s a work you can wholly lose yourself in, admiring both the skill that went into developing such a harmonious arrangement out of such quotidian materials (one material seemed to be wallpaper, but the gallery just lists “paper”) and the creative gusto that was able to put these materials to such sculptural ends.

“Secret Blossom” might be better appreciated today than when it was originally painted, as the contemporary gaze no longer harshly condemns paintings for having a decorative flare. Other highlights of the show include “The Sea Where Cleopatra Bathed” (1964), “Attention!” (1962), and “Dark Lips” (1964).

Dorothy Iannone

Secret Blossom, 1962
Painting - Oil, paper collage, acrylic on canvas
165 x 152.5 cm (64.96 x 60.04 in)

Peres Projects
Karl-Marx-Allee 82
10243 Barlin Germany
tel +49 30 275 950 700

Location:Berlin, Germany


Anonymous said…
The painting “Secret Blossom”, painted in 1962 painted on Oil, paper collage, acrylic on canvas is very different and beautiful. As I was reading up on this blog it mentioned that it was frowned upon to have such decorative colors in art but it is much appreciated in this day in age. This is a very abstract painting with such bold colors and if you look closely you can see an image within the painting. The name for this painting serves it justice.