JDJ is thrilled to present With their Striking Features, a solo exhibition by the Italian multidisciplinary artist Bea Scaccia. This exhibition marks Scaccia’s debut exhibition with the gallery and her first solo exhibition of paintings.
At the heart of Scaccia’s practice is the need to create characters and visual archetypes—often genderless, faceless, and ageless—as a means to understand herself and others. Much like ourselves, the characters in Scaccia’s paintings, drawings and animations arm themselves with costumes and possessions that speak to the roles they are trying to perform, and the identities they are attempting to embody, particularly with respect to issues of class and gender.
This exhibition focuses on a new body of paintings developed over the last two years, in which Scaccia’s characters appear to be entirely engulfed by their finery: hair, jewels, lace, tassels, fur, ribbons and crystals are piled on top of each other to points of absurdity. These objects evoke a sense of laborious costume and style that is linked to traditional and stereotypical notions of feminine beauty.
Scaccia’s inspirations for this new body of work include Venetian wigs, commedia dell’arte costumes, visual artists such as Domenico Gnoli and Leonor Fini, and especially the ceremonial Sunday culture of her Italian childhood. Having grown up in a small town in southern Italy, where traditional gender roles are paramount, Scaccia paints these accouterments one atop another to such a degree that the piles of objects become absurd and creature-like, deranged by their over-the-top performance of femininity and artifice.
Scaccia approaches her paintings with a sense of magical realism, as highly detailed passages of paint and incredibly fine brushwork give way to strange tableaus. The paintings evoke a sense of historicity with their calming yet slightly sinister muted gray-green palette and ringlets and curls that are reminiscent of 17th-century powdered wigs. The compositions evoke several readings at once: they function as masks or disguises, they convey a sense of security or a lack thereof, they are reminiscent of vanitas still life painting which recalls the transience of life and a sense of moral judgment.
Beatrice Scaccia (b. 1978, Frosinone, Italy, lives and works in New York) is an artist and writer. Her visual works, which take the form of drawings, paintings, and digital animations, explore the absurdity of the human condition. She has had solo exhibitions at venues including the Katonah Museum of Art, New York (2021); Cuchifritos Gallery, New York (2014); and Ugo Ferranti Gallery, Rome (2010). Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Magazzino Italian Art, New York (2020); The Center for the less Good Idea, Johannesburg (2020); American University’s Katzen Arts Center, Washington, D.C. (2016); and AIR Gallery, New York (2011), among others. Her work is included in several public and private collections, including the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and the Portland Museum of Art.