Christina Tenaglia: A tree is not a pile

May 11 – June 9, 2019

Reception: Saturday, May 18, 4 – 6 PM


Gallery Talk: Saturday, May 18, 3 PM


These works are deliberately straightforward, analog, using materials that are worked on and put together simply, without mystery or coding. I am interested in how we take in and process information. At a time when information is overwhelmingly ever present – and yet substantially insufficient – these works are deliberately offering less. Tied to day-to-day surroundings, they seem familiar but are not easily placed, taken out of context. They are themselves, not representational illusions.

I am interested in a process of seeing that wildly fluctuates between extremes: an overwhelming need to limit information, pairing everything down, and a heightened sense of looking – looking both for and intensely at things. Here, in the woods, the seemingly quiet is contrasted with daily change and an underlying energy that is overwhelmingly all around – a reminder that we are on a threshold in between the wild and the manicured, never really present in either place. The presence of extreme light is followed by extreme dark, sometimes existing simultaneously in the openings and fissures of nature (and culture) that only offer us glimpses of it’s underbelly. The visual language of my work has shuffled from a somewhat measured man-made geometry to a more slippery array of visual marks and elements, lights and darks. It is an impure abstraction. I am interested in shaping perceptions of everyday situations. The viewer is responsible for the narrative, if there is one.

Scale ricochets from object to vast space and back. There is an ongoing negotiation of multiple structures: the underneath, base, or background, and the foreground, painting, or drawing. One is not more important than the other – they are linked, chunked, and joined to affect how every other element is perceived. Minimally three dimensional, minimally assembled, and minimally depicted, the situations reveal themselves simply: next to, on top, beneath, in front, behind.

Many of the moves I make, while simple, are slow, deliberate, and painfully thought through. My practice is rife with failure. These works exist in a state of constant doing and undoing, building up and taking apart, breaking and starting again. It is the destroying of what I have done and the decision to stop that is fast. That is the improvisational part. It keeps me in a state of heightened observation while working – I often stop short of where I thought I would, but far past the original plan. I am looking for how little information can I offer and still have a work do something.

2019 Solo Shows were selected by juror Anastasia James, Associate Curator at the Lucas Museum of Art and Former Curator of Exhibitions and Programs, Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, SUNY New Paltz.

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