SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Nancy Toomey Fine Art
is presenting an exhibition of works by Monica Lundy titled Asylumscapes: Studies on Sites of Memory, on view from March 29 to May 13, 2023.
Essay by Giuliana Benassi, contemporary art curator and professor at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma
What is the meaning of the word scape? It is the view or scene of something. Asylumscapes therefore describes a precise scenario, that of the place of the asylum as seen by the artist herself. The place in question is the former asylum in Rome, Santa Maria della Pietà, a place traversed by Monica Lundy in different directions. In the past, the artist has made works starting from archival images, site visits, and later she made burned drawings of objects belonging to that place. For this exhibition, however, Lundy, not at all tired of looking at the place once again to probe the pulse of memory to its depths, embraces it with paint, as if she were treating a landscape. Yes, a landscape, precisely one of the topos of painting.
Again returning to the suffix scape therefore reminds us of a wide look into space. Metaphorically, Lundys means a wide look into history and memory: through the places that still have a reminder of past nightmares, hidden events that, faintly, allow themselves to be described through visible traces and signs.
Glimpses of abandoned interiors, characterized by empty horrors of cardboard boxes or by the loneliness of a chair or a radiator, as well as the view of a pavilion among a grove of trees and the portrait of a ruined building: these are some of the subjects that Lundy paints as a statement. These are places of memory, the landscape of memory, says Lundy. Beautiful or insignificant, bleak or fascinating, they represent a thousand portraits of as many human beings. They are studies, images where the artists eye seeks new units to measure what perhaps cannot be measured: memory and especially everything that escapes from memory.
Thus, liquid porcelain on board or charcoal on linen are the mediums Lundy prefers for this series of works as tools to crystallize what is otherwise elusive. The difference in technique, however, is brought to the same formal regime by a single gesture unique to all the works in the series, namely the frame. The frame is not simply a frame, but an integral part of the work. Handcrafted with traditional Roman techniques, it is conceived by the artist as a stage in which the images are exhibited once and for all, as if to be fixed forever in memory, in a kind of monitor sculpted to project the same image indefinitely.