There’s something about the implication. A leg implies a man. A bottle implies a party. A depiction implies an experience. A knife implies danger. Erica Vincenzi makes a home in the implication, cropping and balancing the visual weight of her paintings in a way that is emotionally and philosophically informed by literature. As a collection, these works are fragmentary windows like strips in a comic. Her subjects are recognizable, but they have been defamiliarized to the point of representing more fiction than fact. Like replaying a memory, fantasy weaves in and out of her work with an ominous absurdity. Logic doesn’t belong here. But can you imagine what party you would have to attend to make your skin glow violet? Can you feel the red vinyl booth sticking to your thighs? These worlds aren’t visible in Vincenzi’s work, but we still believe they are out there. Somewhere.
A negotiation with desire is at the heart of what inspires this belief. Vincenzi zeroes in on an emotional atmosphere where delicious and alluring sensations call from unexpected =settings. There’s something distinctly Los Angeles about this sensibility, where displaced longing is king. The expanded fields of bright color throughout her work are all the more seductive because of their murky and subdued counterparts. Vincenzi often subverts our expectations about the central subject of her paintings by drawing the eye to the less defined area of her canvas. Where her brushstrokes are the most vivid and her dimensionality the most compelling, the promised subject is nowhere to be found. We only want it because we don’t have it. The goal of visual completion is always out of reach.
Faith and pleasure mediate this disappointment. There’s a sense of humor to Vincenzi’s arrangement of fixations, and this absurdity breaks the solemnity of her unsettled aesthetics. Again and again, she chooses indulgence. Indulgent color, indulgent subject matter. Stubbornly beautiful. There’s something generous about this attitude, where Vincenzi embraces a sort of hope that viewers might actually feel good making their way across her canvases. There is joy in her colors and textures. Many of her works have a vertical split down the center - whether it’s from a pillar, or plant, or arrangement of hands. This central fissure works compositionally as an upward motion, a call to faith. Is this painting offering us something to believe in? Do we have a choice whether or not we want to take that leap?
Text by Ruby Elliott Zuckerman
Erica Vincenzi (b. 1995) received a Bachelor of Arts at University of Los Angeles, CA in 2017. Selected group exhibitions include A Loop, A Triangle, & Trapezoid, BozoMag, Los Angeles, CA, Works on Paper on Fridges, Harkawik, New York, NY, Becky Koslrud & Erica Vincenzi, Punto Lairs inc, Los Angeles, CA. Erica co-founded and directs Piazza Palazzo, an artist run outdoor exhibition space in Hollywood, CA. Erica lives and works in Los Angeles, California.