Commonwealth and Council presents Blue Violets, a new body of work by Ariane Vielmetter that uses the violet as a guiding motif to examine various kinds of disappearance and camouflage, both formal and allegorical.
For this exhibition and its accompanying artist’s book, Vielmetter crafts something of an origin story for the violet, tracing its symbolism in relation to many forgotten, overlooked, and underestimated female figures in painting and literature. She plays with the terms “shrinking violet,” “wallflower,” and “pansy” in an effort to understand whether the inclination to dematerialize is a death wish or a survival mechanism.
Many of her drawings feature the violet represented in its literal form, while others probe the linguistic variations and implied meanings of the fragile flower. Vielmetter experiments with simple printmaking processes to generate repeated patterns and multiple layers, using striped and floral prints from her collection of textiles and ephemera as source material. She then manipulates the printed fabrics and sheets of paper until their patterns lose some of their original rigidity, and renders the resulting surfaces in watercolor and pencil. Her drawings translate each wrinkle, dent, and contortion in an attempt to loosen the distinctions between foreground and background, negative and positive space, surface and interiority.
Vielmetter’s work frequently engages the mechanisms of trompe l’oeil painting as a way to re-interpret familiar objects and images, relying on the inevitable errors of her hands and eyes to translate and reimagine her subject matter until it is no longer easy to identify. While her practice is rooted in drawing, she experiments with a variety of surfaces and materials, including sounds and moving images. She often re-purposes older work, as well as the scraps and by-products of the process of her daily life, as a starting point for new work. She uses materials that change physically with the passage of time, and that carry embedded traces of their past uses and meanings, to make work that complicates the boundary between what is found and what is made, between the recognizable and the invented.
Ariane Vielmetter lives and works in Los Angeles, and received her MFA from CalArts in 2012. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at Marine Contemporary, Night Gallery, Torrance Art Museum, Center for the Arts Eagle Rock, CCS Gallery at UC Santa Barbara, and the Guggenheim Gallery at Chapman University. Her writing has been included in Night Papers, Notes on Looking, and The Art Book Review.