Margot Samel is pleased to announce Dovetail, Sarah Margnetti’s first US solo exhibition.
Sarah Margnetti blends the body with architectural elements in comic hybridizations that unsettle notions of gender, sexuality, and domesticity. Her figures move seamlessly through surfaces and change their shape, only revealing themselves in fragmented parts that are depicted in stylistic contrast to meticulously wrought trompe l’oeil’ architectural materials. Shifting intuitively between medium and scale, Margnetti creates murals, textiles, furniture, and architectural interventions that display an array of technical and performative modes while thinning the divide between interiority and exteriority.
The emphatic contrast between her emerging corporeal lineations and the uniformity of the settings they inhabit, invite mixed feelings of uneasiness and curious attraction. They also elicit a recognition of the tension between inward and outward appearances and experiences, such as the mirrored silhouette in But the fly where the marble pattern of a figure folds into itself obfuscating the figure’s face. Having earned degrees in both visual arts (at the Écolecantonale d’art of Lausanne and Geneva University of Art and Design where she earned her master’s degree) and the Institut Van der Kelen-Logelain in Brussels where she completed an intensive program in decorative arts, Margnetti’s technical repertoire is often a point of departure in her work, influencing how she composes and layers elements into an integrated ensemble. That Margnetti enjoys the rigorous process of emulating diverse materials is apparent in the inspiration she finds in their details. Material punctuation divides and unites bodily forms, and makes them cohesive. Her figures are also typically depicted in yellow ochre, a color that adds to their cartoonish appearance, as well as corresponding to the warm tones of the wood, reeds, and bricks, giving these materials added subjectivity.
In Alone together hands support an eye, an ear, and a nose, piecing together a profile. Although this “face” is distilled into three individual features, it is indisputably a face. By not representing entire faces or figures, Margnetti’s subjects are afforded maximum freedom. They are unidentifiable and unknowable; they live and move unclothed, undeterred, staring straight back into the eyes of any would-be voyeur. On the other hand, the emptiness of her compositions also recalls the detachment and the invisibility of feminized labor. Margnetti’s figures provide support and structure to their environments, they are strong, their nails grow humorously and rebelliously long. Ears appear in the slightest curve, listening. Her uncanny paintings point to the creation of spaces for female selfhood that are not monopolized by surveillance or trends of idealized beauty. All the while, Margnetti preserves a sense of playfulness, having fun with the strange shapes we are born into.
Sarah Margnetti in conversation with Chloe Stagaman for the Brooklyn Rail