Gina Ruggeri’s project for The Aldrich is conceived as a constellation of large-scale paintings on Mylar, cut out and attached flush to the Museum’s walls. The works depict imaginary landscape fragments that merge seamlessly with the gallery’s surfaces, activating the space. Surrounding the viewer from floor to ceiling, the images are rendered with dramatic spatial intensity, and take into account the viewer’s physical viewpoint. Trompe l’oeil caverns seem to puncture or erode some walls, while voluminous plumes of smoke and drifting clouds emerge from others. These visionary fragments of nature test the boundary between reality and artifice as they lure the viewer into their believable yet impossible illusions.
Ruggeri’s work also oscillates between the material and the immaterial, and painting and drawing. Much of the immaterial quality emerges when we approach the painting and at close inspection it becomes a pattern of intimate marks, more like an abstract drawing, making us lose our grasp of the overall appearance. As we move farther away, the massive forms of the cavern, the drifting cloud or the flying turf carpet return, materializing with incredible pictorial qualities. Theoretician Rosalind Krauss once explained that drawing is a conceptual experience, while painting provides a more sensuous immediacy. Ruggeri’s work incorporates both and allows for a choreographed movement between the two.
As the works move from form to formlessness and back to form, they question the illusionary space not only of the paintings/drawings themselves, but of the museum as well. They remind us that not everything is what it seems—museums may not be what they seem! Ultimately, Ruggeri’s paintings/drawings are a catalyst for experiencing real and imagined environments through her impeccable work.
Mónica Ramírez-Montagut, curator