It’s with great pleasure that Simone Subal Gallery announces the opening of Sonia Almeida’s Perpetual dizziness on Sunday, January 6, 2019. This is Almeida’s fourth solo show at the gallery. The exhibition runs until February 10, 2019. Please join us for an opening reception on January 6th from 6 – 8 pm.
Sonia Almeida’s Perpetual dizziness is a nuanced rumination on the nature of the creative act and its relation to the agency of individuals and images. At the heart of her new body of paintings is the tension between deliberate choices and those that are involuntary. Much of this, for Almeida, is the attempt to determine what of her paintings is derived from her intent and what is a product of muscle memory and intuition. Almeida does not privilege one aspect of expression over another but sees them intertwined. Thought and feeling are two sides of the same coin. But what is most revealing, and what she explores in each painting on view, is how the willed—what she wishes to include in the composition—and the involuntary—techniques and forms built out of years of practice and repetition that seemingly elide conscious thought—influence one another.
Almeida couples her philosophical inquiry with her longstanding interest in Late Medieval imagery, particularly depictions of women. The Late Medieval period, in the Western tradition, marks the moment before the invention of one-point perspective, a technique that allowed images to appear rational and hierarchical. Almeida has paid special attention to illuminated manuscripts and altarpieces, and its concept of the page—something that is mutable, flexible, and dynamic, in which images and pictorial space verge on the mystical—course its way throughout her paintings. Several of Almeida’s compositions like the two-panel piece The disease of efficiency (2018) can be handled and manipulated. The structure of these works alludes to the open spread of a book, in which different images collide and contrast with one another. The paintings’ sliding mechanism transforms them into a time-based operation—something not typically associated with the medium—and by opening or closing the composition the pieces alternate between formats, offering the possibility of either covering one of the panels or complicating the image in small increments. In other works, such as Muscle memory/Lower case h (2018), Almeida turns to the Medieval tradition of anthropomorphic alphabets, a form of inscription that contorts the human figure into the shape of the graphic sign. These images remind viewers that the body, especially the alluded female body in Almeida’s work, is a representational chain with no end in sight.
Yet one of the most telling things Almeida brings forth from the Medieval is a wonderment with representations, something she makes visible in the way her paintings exist in multiple pictorial spaces, how time within each work is fluid and non-linear, and how it seems that an image can easily be a thing and vice versa. The depicted, in Almeida’s work, has a power of its own. It exerts influence over both Almeida and the viewer, and the effect is nothing short of special.