Having seen some of Louise Giovanelli’s work before when she’s exhibited as part of The International 3 in Manchester. It was an exciting chance to view a collection of her mystifying paintings altogether.
Channelling Roman-esque vibes in subject, tone and colour they register as quite minimal palettes within a dense, over-crowded world. A deft brushstroke goes a long way to indicate smooth lines, soft texture and articulated form. The history of painting is automatically tied into her work. The clever use of oils translates her cryptic subjects through layers and light. Anarchic painterly touches here and there such as in ‘Mould II’ leave clues to our modern era and like pages of a book you can leaf through the paintings as though you are observing a rich history of narrative.
Through research and travel Giovanelli’s use of source material has given her the tools to extract new content and suggest alternative narratives in her paintings. I naturally gravitate towards the statue busts. Who were they? What did they represent? They seem surrounded by remnants of another world. Just like scattered decorative pieces, bowls and vases that the Time Team would discover in a nearby field, the other paintings are dotted on the walls providing a backdrop that history buffs would drool over if they were originals from a Roman Villa.
Looking towards the Museum’s own collection and the work of John Warrington Wood, Giovanelli has rediscovered links to both sculpture and architecture between Rome and Warrington. A natural source of subject matter her paintings offer up a world of character, significance and the cryptic. Hidden clues emanate like sacrificial offerings in ‘Pink House’ and ‘Blue House’. Being a history buff myself I can wonder at the awe and beauty of a bygone age whilst understanding how she has surrendered to its perplexing and enigmatic mysteries.