Allison Bianco, A Curious Tide exhibition review

Britany Salsbury, ArtForum, May 7, 2015

The prints in this exhibition explore the instability of memory, formally and contextually effacing personal imagery until it becomes abstracted and foreign. Allison Bianco's work attempts to reconcile her own childhood recollections of Rhode Island with the lived experience of returning as an adult. Landscapes that informed her youth are represented in bold, fluorescent tones that would seem lighthearted if not for the expressive formal processes involved-such as in the intaglio and silk-screen prints of Yosemite, 2009, in which a picturesque mountain scene is printed over with thick smears of black. Regardless of scale or detail, each print in the exhibition is realized across a series of combined, separate sheets, forcing the images to accommodate a specific scale in much the same way that reality conforms to one's own recollection of it.


In the diptych intaglio and silk-screen print Zeppelin, 2013, a blimp hovers over the popular beach town of Narragansett, presenting an aerial view dotted by architectural landmarks. While the landscape and the opaque, screen-printed fields of color used to depict it appear bright and ornamental, a closer look reveals that a diagonal swath of blue actually represents the sea threatening to overtake the coastal area. On the other side of the diptych, parts of the image are almost entirely obscured by inky, smudged fingerprints. Amid these painterly marks, identifiable buildings and ships are represented with such precision that the viewer, like the artist, is forced to search within density to mine the obscured memory.


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