Gabrielle Vitollo


Void (Antarctica), oil and acrylic on canvas, 60”x44.5” (152 cm x 113 cm), 2021

The Void (Antarctica) painting is from a series of large satellite image paintings in which I depicted locations being transformed by climate change. These remote locations are painted directly from my laptop screen as I traverse Google Earth. This painting relates to Deleuze’s writings on machine perception, specifically from a cosmic perspective. The satellite telescope generates composite images that allow humans to make sense of something abstract, for example, climate change. While the source of the geological visuals is a machine, I reintroduce the scientific image as a painted object within a human context. The labor-intensive, hand-painted image reintroduces viewers to these climate-change impacted areas, so that they may take pause and experience this phenomena in a new way. The large scale and hard-edge geometry of these works also creates an unusual and surprising body-object relationship between the viewer and the painting so that the viewer experiences both time and space differently.  These works depict environmentally essential locations impacted by climate change, while playing with the formal rules of the game called painting. This is done in the spirit of one of Deleuze’s favorite painters, Francis Bacon. My paintings are full of formal contradictions and push-pull paradoxes as I portray symbolic systemic disruptions or glitches on top of these landscapes transformed by human activity. My painting Void’s black hard-edge geometry manifests from gaps in satellite mappings – a glitch challenging the systemic status quo. These satellite paintings show the weirdness of the cosmic satellite perspective and pushes against the human anthropomorphic view of the universe. 

RA 13h 14m 42s | Dec -7° 15′ 38″ (Mars Rover), 12”x12” (30 x 30 cm), oil and acrylic on linen, 2021 

Cyborg H1N5, acrylic and spray paint on paper, 52″x40″, 2014

Cyborg H1N5 and Cross Section Diagram Of A Good Question. Similar to the composite image of the satellite image, my hybrid paintings show a combination of animals and machine elements that normally do not manifest together in the natural world – some appear to occupy a cosmic space. In parallel with Deleuze’s ideas on metaphysics, reality within the paintings is always folding, unfolding, refolding into a “pluralism equal to monism”. That is, that pluralism consists of composite images and varied brushwork and monism is the singular painting. The images also evidence cross-sections and windows into magnifications and details. For these paintings, I combined pour, spray, and expressive brushwork techniques.  In the hybrid paintings, techniques, materials and images that seem to have nothing in common come together to produce new things: new voids, new entities, new beings, new spaces. Somehow the paintings produce something beyond our perception, but offer different fractured perspectives in order to give us a sense of the whole. These hybrid works also reference Francis Bacon’s formal strategy (or Logic Of Sensation) by using a graphic edge to create tension and drama between the figure and the space. Bacon’s painting techniques resisted Abstract Expressionism, in that his brushwork and brush sizes were varied, unpredictable, and exciting. Bacon and I both play with time and space in our painting, as evidenced in our use of photography/technology (images of past events) and varied mark-making speeds (different time-scales). 

Al Lupo, acrylic on paper, 40″x25″, 2012

Al Lupo and Slice. In 2013, I received a Greenshields grant to apprentice a butcher in Greve, Italy and create paintings based on this experience. At the time, I was interested in Bacon’s fascination for butchershops and slaughterhouses – that we are all potential carcasses, but also his interest in the long historical tradition of crucifixion paintings. Deleuze writes about this in his chapter, “Body, Meat, and Spirit” from his book focusing on Francis Bacon’s paintings, The Logic of Sensation. Bacon spent a great deal of time in butcher shops contemplating what it means to be human. After witnessing Italy’s butcher shops, I wanted to paint the spirit of the meat – not to render it illustratively, but to utilize expressive, acrobatic brushwork, vibrant reds, and the meeting of structural bones with sensual flesh. In my early 20’s when I made this work, I was fixated on mortality, but I also see a lot of similar formal similarities (positive-negative space relationships) and brushwork techniques overlapping with the current satellite image paintings, which brings everything together for a on overarching theme on the human condition and our relationship to the non-human. 

Slice, acrylic on paper, 40″x25″, 2012