An Artist’s Wide-Ranging Practice Explores the Past and Present, the Self and Society

Italian contemporary artist Loredana Di Lillo is interested in the past and the present, truth and fiction, the personal and the collective—and the overlap between them. Working with whatever medium best suits her message, she has produced drawings, paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, videos, and books, in which she makes recognizable objects and images strange. Through them, she reflects upon the effects of time, memory (and mis-remembering), and personal and collective history on our experience of life, and explores how these experiences feed into the mores of contemporary society. 

She once brought a range of works together at Cardi Gallery to transform its spaces into repositories of childhood memories, not necessarily her own. Reflecting a more universal experience of childhood, including that of innocence and its loss, her installation included a series of manipulated, sexually explicit photographs, as well as a giant inflatable mattress, complete with cartoon arms snaking out of its sides—representing the comfort and fear wrapped up in the relationship of children to their parents and their home. This installation exemplified the artist’s overarching aim, which she once described as an attempt “to reconcile and document a fleeting vision of dream, art, and reality.”

Though Di Lillo’s art is often based upon her own experiences, she aims to reach beyond herself, and once stated that within her work is “something that goes a bit beyond the little story of my life, but that is also very close to the intimate story of us all.” This is reflected in pieces like Supernatural (2011), an amorphous sculptural form composed of white, yellow, black, and clear plastic garbage bags layered over a bronze piece concealed beneath. The work’s title alludes to the otherworldly, ghostly, or godly, and foregrounds the power of suggestion to activate the mind, tapping into our inbuilt inclination to make sense of our surroundings by drawing on our memories, experiences, and associations, with imagination often filling in the gaps. In To Lose (2013), the artist presents an open-ended and poetic meditation on an experience that unites us all: loss. This economical piece consists of the phrase “to lose” affixed to the wall, with “to” in black decal lettering and “lose” in white neon script, and space after these words for any number of our own.

Karen Kedmey 

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