Painting in her studio in Brooklyn.

Painting in her studio in Brooklyn.

 

 HEIDI ZITO

Heidi Zito’s compositions combine images and events that she has encountered in cinema, video and photographic images and personal experience. They are about the displacement of time and space observed through lens based media. The resulting works are fragments of time and life pieced together to form a dream like state. Zito is interested in working through an idea and processing the images ingrained in our memories. 

Influenced by the aesthetic nuances of the camera lens, the works explore the process of painting and the human perception of reality. The method involves the disassembly of an image spatially and temporally, and reordering the fragments as the human mind does when recounting memories. The works are intended to create an unfamiliar dream state where the perception of time and place are perpetually skewed. Constantly shifting perspectives draws the viewer to question the prejudgments and experiential baggage of themselves and the artist. 

Similar to the blur created by slow shutter speeds, each layer of applied paint represents a singular moment, which in chorus creates a sweeping representation of elapsed time. The almost cinematic quality of the compositions’ temporal and spatial siting echoes the intensity of the brushstrokes, which further amplify the sense of motion that both constitutes and defines the artist’s sense of world. However, unlike a photograph or video the impastoed paint creates physical texture and depth while further flattening the photographic image by pulling in the background to the foreground. Reordering the layers of depth creates a balanced, flattened image through application of neutral colors and masses of paint. 

The videos emerge from the artist’s painting process and experiment with the displacement of time and space in a single setting. In Sequence of Monotone 2011 a pedestrian performs a walk across the screen. The actual fifteen second event is stretched into a two minute rhythmic dance during which the removed subject reverses and retraces his steps as he selectively reconstructs and remembers a memory. 

The blurring of subjects and location creates an ambiguity that allows for the existence of time shifts and atmosphere. The time shifts represent the glitches in human memory when the mind attempts to revisit a moment from the past by fast forwarding and rewinding through the event, filling in gaps after each pass. This energy and movement, however, are counterbalanced by an equally palpable sense of stillness. This quiet is manifested in the deeply contemplative moods her paintings evoke and the ethereal quality produced by their visual vigor. Such a paradoxical coupling of forces is embodied by (Universal Traveler 2010), in which the stillness of the landscapes is held in check by the potential energy contained within the abstract lines of movement in between the scenes of landscapes. The people in the crowd’s anonymity, the indeterminate positioning of abstract lines elicit an ambiguity that nimbly suspends the tranquility and flight in favor of an otherworldly middle ground. 

Encompassing the scattered and missing pieces that we randomly and involuntarily bring to light in our dream states, Zito’s paintings create an aesthetic that balance representation and abstraction. Her luminous colors, which arrive to the canvas well mixed to preserve their clarity, are also fundamental to the compositions’ affective impact. Against lush, richly hued underlayers is set a constellation of brilliant daubs that assume, without overly aping, the way light weaves through the people subject into a large vacant landscape. The compositions gives a feeling that it is deluged with air, aptly captures the thick, whirling atmosphere in her paintings, particularly in outdoor scenes such as Short Long Time 2010 and

Repetition Is A Pleasure II 2011. The rendering of light and atmosphere through brushwork and coloristic nuance-- where flesh is modeled in shifting pinks -- recalls practices of 19th century Impressionism. But unlike the impressionist or other artists working in traditions concerned with problems of perception and representation, Zito sees the inherent multiplicity of reality as the means through which universal communication can be bridged. And with their psychological components and modern pathos, her works are defiantly of the contemporary moment. 

Zito is motivated by the desire to generate dialogue between subjective personal perception, external reality and the tenuousness of translation. If painting is a form of language, she attempts to create a language, foreign to all but herself, and then say a few things in that language in such a way that would make them clear to anybody. In order to reconcile these fissures between self-expression and communication, between the real and the represented, Zito adopts a technique in painting and video predicated on the idea of fluid conversation. Ideas of vision and knowledge aside, Zito’s works are deeply personal exercises that carry a distinct emotional weight. They ask questions without demanding answers while enriching the pursuit of exploration for its own sake.