Despite their spatial tendencies, the ten contributions in Dianna Molzan’s solo exhibition at Kristina Kite Gallery are securely anchored within the language of painting. While maintaining this medium-specific position, Molzan employs a flirtatious relationship with sculpture as a filter through which she can extract painterly potential, ensuring its dimensional aspects never stray too far beyond the canvas.
Such enterprise is most evident in a trio of totemic, vaguely cruciform works (Untitled, all 2017) installed on the main gallery’s west wall. Each is comprised of a monochromatic vertical substrate on top of which a gesturally painted pillow-like form rests, making for dramatic interplay between two opposing surfaces. Corporeally suggestive, each protruding “face” intently meets the viewer’s gaze.
Bulbousness is an oft-repeated motif in Usurpico, making appearances in all but three of its works. For instance, Untitled (2017), is painting at its most straightforward—oil on canvas—yet here morphs itself into a wooden frame supporting two green and lavender pillows onto which vibrant, magnetizing compositions have been brushed. Balanced, clean, frivolous, awkward, confrontational, and utterly accessible, this work, like its companions, manages tremendous potency with the simplest of materials.
Molzan’s simultaneous dedication to painting and seizure upon external material and conceptual realms makes for open ended resolution. As such, each painting exudes a sense of conflict—a comfortable unease with being at odds with itself. This is not to say that these works suffer from any lack of intellectual framework, skillful execution, or status as discrete objects—quite the opposite. Usurpico commands viewers to engage with its expansions and contractions, imbrications and dualities, and ultimately, with the very activity of painting itself.
Image: Dianna Molzan, Untitled (2017). Oil on canvas with poplar. 30 x 35 x 7 inches. Image courtesy Kristina Kite Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Brian Forrest.
Originally published by Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles, May 25, 2017