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Gracie DeVito at Overduin & Co

Gracie DeVito, "Breaker's Edit"

Overduin & Co. is presenting  “Breaker’s Edit” by Gracie DeVito. The exhibition will feature a group of new paintings and sculptures. The show runs March 11th through April 22, 2023

DeVito’s is an art feeding on contingencies. Calling up images of tropic greenery, forest bacchanals, or scenes taking place deep under water, her paintings are neither purely figurative nor abstract. Taking her cues from a tradition in modern painting defined by the methodical use of analysis, replication, and revision, she approaches the figure as something found or recognized rather than created.

A series of sculptures included in the exhibition are based on casts of various found objects such as car mascots and figurines culled from local thrift stores. These works appear to fly in the face of the resistance to outright description in DeVito’s large format canvases. A painting such as Belly’s Worth may be devoid of human figures. Yet, the presence of the artist and viewer is implied by the length of the brush strokes, measuring the reach of the painter’s arms, and the size of the canvas forcing the viewer to move around to see it all. When DeVito mounts a three-inch bronze cast of a hood ornament of a naked woman in a feather boa, at a ninety-degree angle to the wall next to the painting, she tilts the space that the painting invites the viewer into on its side and messes with its scale, while also making a nod in jest towards the longstanding fascination of modernist painters with acrobats and dancers.

Mounted to the wall, the sculptures encroach on a part of the exhibition space otherwise reserved for paintings. And DeVito thinks of her sculptures as extensions of the little flecks of color that accumulate on the array of painter’s rags and on the walls of her studio, next to her paintings, while she paints. Like footnotes at the bottom of a page or sketches in the margin of a text, they are essential to the paintings from which they have nevertheless also been expelled, often because they are too much: too literal, inappropriate, awkward. It is to this sculptural unconscious of her paintings that DeVito dedicates Breaker’s Edit, which is titled after Ball Breaker, a three-tiered bronze sculpture in which differently sized figures, two of them halved at the waist, form a macabre human mobile.

There is an art historical theory about ornament in Romanesque architecture according to which ornamental form and architectural frame push against one another, pressing each other into, and out of, shape. It is not difficult to see how this theory may apply to DeVito’s shaped canvases in which the frames seem to be distorted, pushed, and pulled out of shape by the compositions, and the compositions, squeezed and stretched beyond recognition by the frames. In DeVito’s most recent works, it seems this sort of dialectic between interiority and exteriority, forming and un-forming, articulation and distortion, becomes the condition of her practice across media.

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