Press Release: Dramas of Adjustment

Sophy Naess | Joseph Stella
Dramas of Adjustment

24 October – 11 December 2021

April in Paris is proud to announce Dramas of Adjustment, a presentation of artworks by Sophy Naess and Joseph Stella. It is the first show by Naess in the Netherlands and will present completely new works such as a site-specific wall-filling tapestry and several large prints on canvas. Between panels with stretched colorful paint marks, illustrations of a fox appear who tries, in a variety of attempts and constant stretches, to reach grapes that are hanging high on a tree. The obvious effort of the fox is never rewarded. The wall-sized weaving by Sophy Naess is an approach to Aesop’s fable of “The Fox and the Grapes”, in which the fox tells himself, after not being able to harvest the desired fruit, that the grapes are no good anyway and therefore not worth chasing. Naess’s weaving catches the fox in the moment of constant trial, continuously under tension and never reaching his satisfaction.

What resonates in the work is the feeling of tension that can occur when one strives for the idea of a “good” or “better” life. Lauren Berlant, the renowned American cultural theorist, sees this attachment as an actual obstacle to ones being. “Dramas of Adjustment” is the term Berlant uses to describe the situation when an unfeasible aim, which one might project in an object or idea of desire, will never be reached and therefore one needs to adjust their perception of it. (Berlant, Lauren: Cruel Optimism, London 2011.) In Naess’ tapestry, the grapes can be seen as the idea of the better life which the fox tries to reach to no end.

Sophy Naess, The Fox and the Grapes, 2021, hand-painted and handwoven cotton and wool fibers, various dimensions, detail

Besides their figurative meaning, the works presented in the exhibition Dramas of Adjustment are quite literally dependent on tension and stretching. Weaving the tapestry, for example, requires the pull and the traction of a loom in order to create it. The weaving is a rather artisanal approach and reflects Naess’s interest in structure and material itself. In her tapestry, the adaptability of the material as well as the stretching of the painted marks applied on the threads before the weaving process, transmit the idea of simultaneous deconstruction and reconstruction.

Naess’ collagraphs are prints on paper and canvas of loosely woven figurative constructions of threads. In order to be printed the fragile construction of threads is recomposed each time it comes out of the ink in order to be printed again. The prints are the result of this circular process of stretching, loosening and repeated stretching.

Besides her examination of narratives such as myths and fables, Sophy Naess depicts in her paintings details she observes in everyday life, often looking to plant forms and their negative space as a mirror of the tensions in the woven work. Her approach of observation and reflection will be put in relation to a selective presentation of survey drawings and paintings of material and structures by Joseph Stella. The result is a dialogue and trans-historical relatedness between the works.

Joseph Stella, Cactus, Century Plant, silverpoint, colored pencil, pencil on paper, 38.1 x 52.1 cm

Sophy Naess (*1982) was trained as an oil painter and maintains an active multidisciplinary practice that includes weaving, writing, and various print-based projects. Her work will be presented in dialogue with works by Joseph Stella (* 1877 Muro Lucano, IT | † 1946 New York City, USA) an Italian-American painter. The latter’s fine silverpoint drawings of plants and flowers and idiosyncratic paintings on paper share with Naess a vulnerable, fluttering sensibility. In 1897, Stella began painting and studying at the Art Students League, then at the New York School of Art. Until the early 1920s, his painting was influenced by the Futurists in Paris. Later, his art was influenced by realism, surrealism, and abstract painting.

Dramas of Adjustment will be running from 24 October 2021 until 11 December 2021 at April in Paris in Aerdenhout and can be visited by appointment only. You can book online via our website, by email at info@aprilinparisfinearts.com. For any other information contact Maria Tanbourgi per email at maria@aprilinparisfinearts.com or call her at +31(0)6 58 77 51 88.