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Must See: Luisa Rabbia, "Inferno"
By Artforum
March 21, 2023

Throughout her career, Luisa Rabbia’s work has explored the psychosocial nuances of humanity from the individual to the collective experience. Her intuitive and emotional approach leaves behind a collection of traces on the surface of the canvas that while evoking temporality also allow for reflections on the spiritual.

In her newest series, taking visual cues from Sandro Botticelli’s Map of Hell (1480-1495)—a key drawing from a series of 92 commissioned to illustrate Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy--Rabbia reimagines Hell within the landscape of the human body. She eschews religious connotations to instead investigate more personal, terrestrial Hells that are part of the human experience. In the works, Botticellli’s circles of Hell become rib cages, their bodies stripped bare of skin and flesh as Rabbia excavates the surface, scraping away paint to reveal visceral, expressive worlds of inner turmoil.

The exhibition Inferno will present a group of large oil on canvas paintings as well as a series of nine works on paper titled The Inferno, Broken in Nine Pieces, which specifically represents conditions such as anxiety, helplessness, loss, separation, war, loneliness, injustice, and pregnancy with an unwanted child. The paintings expand on this theme to include manifestations of evil using the same corporeal composition, thereby further addressing the nature of suffering in the world today.

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