Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Using Acrylic Paint and Twitter to Portray Online Bonding among Women

    Sonia Di Maio, Arielle,  2017, acrylic on canvas, 20" x 16"

Sonia Di Maio
The Hidden Selfie
Holcim Gallery, First Ontario Art Centre Milton
June 25 - July 13

Di Maio's first solo exhibition coheres with a clever premise. She paints acrylic portraits from selfies of female friends she communicates with via Instagram, a safe yet geographically  remote way to socialize. Then, in an interactive gesture of generosity, she invites her subjects and friends to "complete" her perceptual portraits with their favourite tweets (she originally met these women on Twitter). This methodology covers two art world zeitgeists: feminism and Internet culture. 

However, what ultimately buoys the work is not contemporaneity but the interplay of Di Maio's portraits and the subjects' responsive texts, a connection that succeeds at bridging online distance and detachment. The best works such as Arielle are both haunting and darkly humorous. Arielle's alert yet sad eyes pierce out from a bright blue hoodie that can certainly symbolize a hiding place. Ironically in a social media app loaded with filters, the painting is jarringly unfiltered. Unpretentious honesty can be hard to come by in visual art, but it is present here and throughout this exhibition.

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