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August 31–October 2, 2022

Vanessa Gully Santiago’s works describe human attachments and separation, imperfect relationships and forgiveness. A Flower That Grows enters the terrain of child psychology, recalling and reconstructing childhood feelings of vulnerability, overwhelm, alienation, and anxiety. In approaching these experiences, she relies on the mirage of physical space to create what are, in fact, depictions of intense psychological spaces. Her paintings take on the dream-like quality of memory with their smooth but exact detail, unsettling ambience, selective color palette, and stark uses of light and darkness. Gully Santiago corroborates the earliest appearances of these intense emotions in her own life by returning to a cache of photographs and video recordings of herself, parents, and friends from this time. In some places, she graphically overlays childhood drawings and letters of affection and apology, forming a kind of jagged scar tissue within the works.

Through this process Gully Santiago reaches into the need for love and human connection, and the despair and disassociation a person can feel in their absence. Parallel to her lucid figurative images, citations of recognizable graphics and industrial design—a suicide hotline poster, the Amazon smile, a surveillance camera— have remained an eerie counterpoint in her works. In this new body of paintings Gully Santiago reproduces a series of empty therapy worksheets out-of-scale. Evidence-based in their approach, these documents seek to transform extreme emotional states through a flattened abstraction of human emotions. In the void-realm of these images, memory sometimes blanks in detail, other times reaching an emotional horror-pitch. Gully Santiago approaches painting as a space to empathize with the self and within this contrast.

Vanessa Gully Santiago (b. 1984 Boston, MA, lives and works in Queens, NY) received her BFA from Cooper Union and MFA from Rutgers University. Her work has been exhibited at Microscope Gallery, Jack Barrett, Rachel Uffner, Hesse Flatow, Thierry Goldberg, American Medium, Marinaro, Helena Anrather, JTT, Foxy Production, and Smart Objects, among other venues. She was a resident at the Vermont Studio Center and Byrdcliffe Art Colony. A Flower That Grows follows Gully Santiago’s solo presentation, Young Professional at JamesFuentes.Online in 2020.



Photography: Jason Mandella

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