“Amplification Through Simplification”
Corinna Zanolini is one of the impressive young artists who has exhibited at The Box in the Isla Vista Theater this year. She is a third year undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara majoring in Art through the College of Creative Studies. Her exhibition featured two of Sanolini’s oil paint portraits accompanied by several small drawings. The captivating portraits convey moments of pure human emotion.
Zanolini explains that her desire is to merge industrial design with the raw emotion and character of her muses. Her painting process begins with an acrylic under-painting, layered with oil paints for the facial features. All of the portraits are life-like and naturalistic, but also contain a dreamy quality achieved through the artist’s use of a smooth blending technique. Zanolini incorporates an industrial style with backgrounds painted in various shades of gray and off-white house. She completes the portraits with a matte finish to draw the figures further toward the viewer, encouraging a connection with the palpable emotions of her subjects.
Zanolini states, “At the core of these separate sources of inspiration I find that the content of my work almost always arises from feelings of love, both positive and negative, from warm compassion to bitter heartbreak. If I am moved emotionally and enduringly, I make a painting.” This unconcealed emotion is evident in her work. The simple palette and vast backgrounds draw the viewer into the world of the figure and the figures confront this gaze with an unfaltering stare.
There is a particularly moving piece of a man’s face, cropped below the nose, and a gold halo crowning his head. The man’s stare is piercing but the fact that his lower face is cropped suggests a helplessness to communicate with the viewer, or perhaps something that cannot be said all together, making her piece incomprehensively beautiful. There is a tacit relationship between artist and subject that the viewer can feel through the emotion in the painting. Zanolini defines this by claiming, “A deep impetus of my art-making comes from wanting to share, express, and simultaneously conceal life as it affects me,” which comes through in her use of cropping and the ambiguity of her artwork. It is clear that Corinna Zanolini’s work is developing into something that will be influential and moving to future audiences.
Review by Rachel Williams