Art Featured

Which Reality, Anyway? The Paintings of Lorella Paleni

Written by:
Feb 18, 2015

In 2010, after receiving her BFA in Painting from Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia, Lorella Paleni left her native Italy and came to USA because, as she says, she was “disappointed by her undergrad [experience]” and “hungry for more and curious about the world, and what a better way than to study abroad.”

What better way, indeed? Lorella says of her own work that it is “a built world of fragments and reflections,” and this is true. Her work seems like still-lives seen through an overlay of memory, like blurry old photographs of a forgotten or even an as-yet-unseen reality. Her compositions are old snapshots, with both the physical and psychological distortions of long time and faded memory placed behind or on top of subjects we all recognize from our youth or our dreams—an abandoned space, a cooling attic, a newspaper snapshot, a sun-splashed pool of water. Her paintings seem to convey deeply personal emotions set in objective scenes.

It seems at first glance that they are digitally created, not because they look artificial but because they are so multi-layered with such evident care—not because they are hyper-real, but because of the wonder of the double-exposure effect she so adroitly creates. In this age, the viewer’s mind often first thinks of painter rather than paint, or Photoshop rather than studio space. Such a mistake when viewing Lorella’s work is understandable, though. Her process “is built usually in layers and juxtapositions” and she says that her “approach is sometimes very similar to that of a collage artist.” The final products are as masterful as they are intriguing.

Technically, her work is nothing less than entirely skillful. The brushstrokes are varied and fascinating and perfectly placed. And even though she describes her process as “open ended” and says that she “never [knows] when and where [she’ll] stop, how the work will look.” Nothing seems random, nothing is wasted or extraneous. Everything is perfectly composed—balanced, weighed and beautifully in place.

Visually, it takes some effort to get into Lorella’s paintings because they make the excellent demands upon the eye and the mind that a good work of art should. After appreciating color and composition, texture and technique, the mind is invited to sink down into the work and place itself actually in the composition, almost in an act of epistemological archaeology. This is where her work truly lives.  She says of the intuitive nature of her process that she “[doesn’t] want the work to be a mere illustration of an idea” but that she’s” looking for a zone of indiscernibility where form and content merge.” It is in this zone where the viewer will eventually find him- or herself, looking around in marvelous surprise and wonderment.

Lorella is currently an MFA candidate in Visual Arts at Columbia University in NYC and counts Francis Bacon, Cecily Brown, Dana Schutz, Sarah Sze and William Kentridge among her influences.  She can be found on the web at View more art recommendations from


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Written by:
Feb 18, 2015

tags: art, cecily brown, columbia university, dana schutz, double exposure, francis bacon, juxtaposition, layer, mfa, nyc, Painting, sarah sze, william kentridge