by Dilpreet BhullarMay 13, 2021
Seemingly disparate objects and ideas merge and sit in harmony in Brigitte D'Annibale’s art. Before Los Angeles, D'Annibale lived in Hawaii, which deeply influenced her life. A hurricane that swept the island led the artist on a journey of finding beauty in the old and discarded. Piecing together these fragments, D’Annibale started to tell stories of hope and joy.
With AM | USEME | NT, D’Annibale strives to achieve that once again. Describing it as a long evolution of layers, the artist says the work began to emerge as finished only recently. This mixed media work using encaustic wax revolves around the idea of looking within. Using bits of canvas from earlier works, old architectural drawings, textile and sketches, D’Annibale churns out a very tactile work. The artist is very fond of working with children and in this work, she has included their messages of hope into the work. In this interview, D’Annibale focuses on AM | USEME | NT to reflect on her art practice.
1. Please shed some light on your general practice.
I am a woman in process, having spent an unconventional life in the arts, not only as a painter but with origins in architecture and design. This background influences my desire to create work that is immersive, requiring active experience in a physical and often internal space. Stylistically I have always railed against being put into a box. I am more comfortable without the confines. Pushing myself beyond the norm, finding worthwhile failure - that’s exhilarating. The struggle is where the beauty is. Immersed in thiscreative process is when I am most alive!
The physical aspect of my process can be demanding. Building, constructing and stripping away, objects and layers. Playing with depth, foreground, pattern and emotion. Carving into and dripping over. The materials, holding previous lives as objects with other functions, become embedded in the work. Each with an independent story now part of a larger whole. Mixed media has always satisfied my diverse appetite for seemingly disparate mediums and ideas. A catalyst to explore change on both a personal level and the collective human condition. The intent matters. I am metabolising the world that I live in. One that is socially complex and emotionally layered.
2. When and in what circumstances did you conceive this work?
It began with the cultural shift I experienced returning to Los Angeles after living for 20 years in Hawaii. Having that time to myself and experience with a close-knit community to then return to LA is striking. LA is the entertainment capital. A never-ending banquet of amusement. I think a lot of people want to go deep here but there is so much existing on the surface, an exchange economy. Such contrast to the valuable solitude I often found myself immersed in on the island.
3. What is the theme for the work?
There is significance in the word ‘amusement’. In the original sense of the meaning ‘musing, diversion of the attention’. We seem to be fixated in pursuit of insatiable amusement. By exposing society’s incessant need for empty distraction and entertainment we can begin to find an answer when questioning ourselves. What really matters? The consumption of material things, the noise and vapid chatter - all preventing us from being still and looking within.
COVID-19 changed that. We have some stillness. The world is now in search of truth. Art, both as a completed object and as an ongoing process, is more vital than ever. By involving children from my community in the piece, adding their voice, I was able to reveal another perspective. Their words, short and sweet, have profound ripples. A seemingly simple wisdom from the next generation. One that speaks to a world with more unity, peace, love and compassion - a renaissance of sorts. For me it is important that this piece exists. It serves some measure of consolation by calibration of perspective. Perhaps even some joy.
4. What process was used to make the work?
This piece is a visceral expression of physical layers and ideas. An amalgamation of old, deconstructed ideas with a shift of perspective. Taking fragments of canvas from previous work, as well as recycling old architectural drawings, textile and sketches I have created over the years I was able to salvage stories from the past to shape something entirely new.
Adding encaustic wax, I play with depth, foreground, pattern and emotion. It is a process of building up and melting down, carving into and dripping over. Building layers that accumulate texture while gathering elements and images of juxtaposition that will forever swim beneath the surface. My aim is not to represent the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.
5. Why do you think it has not been shown yet?
The piece has only recently begun to emerge as finished. It has been a long evolution of layers. My hope is to incorporate it into a larger multi-sensory installation that unifies a few works I have created. A place to escape the mundane.
6. What would be the ideal (most desired) format to display the work if and when given a chance?
The ideal environment would be to hang the piece in a museum, gallery or public space where it can be enjoyed by the public. Maybe it ends up in a private collection but my desire is to create a multi-sensory experience where you have the piece with audio of voices, video imagery of the layers and process of creation and an accompanying sculptural work to create a moment of reflection. I see an open and intimate experiential space that really allows time for an audience to sit with the work and have an internal moment of dialogue that inspires positive ripples.
Curated by Rahul Kumar, STIR presents Unseen Art: an original series that features works that have never been shown publicly, created by a selection of multidisciplinary artists from across the globe.