Sofia Quirno Turns the Everyday into Quiet Abstract Paintings

Sofia Quirno’s paintings are a bit like brainteasers. Each seems to straddle an abstract and representational existence; compositional elements oscillate between being strange shapes and recognizable real-world objects. In New York, Praxis displays an assortment of these eye games for a show called “Calendar Day.”

The visual material for these canvases stems from Quirno’s daily life—images from publications she spies and collects, or small, noteworthy moments as she passes through her day. She then translates these images using her own visual vocabulary, though traces of their real-life counterparts remain. The final paintings thus elevate the everyday into a new realm of personal abstraction.

The paintings’ titles offer glimmers of narrative. Small Talk (2016), for instance, suggests a conversational scene. Oddly, no figures seem to occupy the canvas—only a large, greenish blob in the foreground and other shapes toward the back. Slowly, the shapes seem to resolve into furniture: The greenish one might be a modernist chair, and the rectangle in the back a mattress on the ground. Suddenly, “small talk” makes a bit more sense, as one imagines figures conversing just outside the frame.

One of the most noticeable aspects of Quirno’s paintings is the range of pictorial depths. Each painting plays with perspective by placing flat shapes next to objects rendered with shading and depth. Hanging Cloud (2016), for instance, displays a flat, nearly scribbled “cloud” atop a strange rectangular box that recedes into the distance. Untitled (2016) obstructs a floating grid with greyish, rotund shape, which makes painting’s orientation difficult to comprehend. Such subtle visual tricks produce compelling paintings that, while pleasing to admire, are also utterly confounding.


—A. Wagner


Sofia Quirno: Calendar Day” is on view at Praxis, New York, Feb. 25–Apr. 2.

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