Over the past several years I have been developing a series of drawings in which common and disposable objects share an invented space with more exalted and ostensibly permanent ones. The strained juxtapositions of divergent subjects and the resultant disjunctive spaces are an attempt to give visual form to a variety of complex relationships between the presumed stability of history and the temporality – even disposability – of contemporary experience and production. Paper bags, cardboard boxes, dustpans and folding chairs are rendered as weighty and monumental, while comparatively permanent architectural subjects are depicted in a weightless language of pure contour line. The optical veracity of linear perspective is alternately employed and disrupted, and large areas are left blank to function simultaneously as space and flat surface. The resulting drawings are both spatial and emphatically two-dimensional. These contradictory spaces and strategies of representation emphasize temporary and shifting relationships while fixing them into a still image.
In a series of essays written in 1985, Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Italo Calvino defined five values that he believed would inform the literature of the new millennium. These qualities – lightness, exactitude, visibility, speed and multiplicity – continue to be profoundly relevant to contemporary experience, and they are as applicable to visual art as they are to literature. In my drawings I am constantly exploring these qualities.
These drawings, then, are about many things: permanence and temporality, cultural inheritance in a time of accelerating change, consumption and tourism, the visual poetry of the mundane. Improvised landmarks and idiosyncratic museums of cultural fragments, they are the shifting points of a provisional compass that I use to find my way from one temporary home to another.
Artist Bio / CV
Steven Carrelli is a Chicago-based artist. He received a BA in Studio Art from Wheaton College in 1990 and an MFA in Painting from Northwestern University in 1995. As a 1995-96 Fulbright scholar, he studied egg tempera painting in Florence, Italy.
He has taught at several colleges and universities in the Chicago area, including DePaul University and Columbia College Chicago.
Carrelli’s paintings and drawings have been exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions, including solo shows at Packer Schopf Gallery in Chicago and Notre Dame University in Indiana. In the Chicago area his work has been included in group exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center, the Koehnline Museum, The Chicago Athenaeum, the Block Museum of Art, and the Evanston Art Center, among others. Other group exhibitions include recent shows at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy, as well as exhibitions in San Francisco, New York, Minneapolis, and other US cities.
His works have appeared in a variety of publications, including the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Reader, New American Paintings, Art Scene Chicago 2000, and Time Out Chicago, as well as numerous exhibition catalogs. Awards include grants from the Ruth Chenven Foundation of New York, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Union League of Chicago.
Carrelli’s work is represented by Packer Schopf Gallery in Chicago.