Libby Rosa

Region: MFA Annual


City / State: Philadelphia, PA

Libby Rosa’s work blurs the distinction between abstraction and representation, causing cognitive dissonance. The painterly situations showcase the metamorphic nature of paint. Questioning where the representational motifs start and stop and where the painterly abstractions begin and end is central to how the work is visually experienced.

The paintings function as illusionary windows or mirrors with mise en abîmes that reveal worlds within worlds. At the same time, the works poke at the materiality and fluidity of paint on two-dimensional surfaces. The paintings lose their functionality as windows when drips of paint interrupt the representational landscapes.

Along with a play of visual understanding, Rosa works with the expressive qualities of color, using hues that create contradictions and mixed emotions such as peaceful / menacing. She intentionally uses tools and processes that connect the imagery to the mark making. She uses the traditional paintbrush to render hair and a squeegee for flowing water, and cuts into the canvas to create holes and spaces to fill.

Although the works are large, the scale of the imagery is often indeterminable. Some works play as micro views, such as seeing through one’s own wet eyelashes, while others are zoomed out like a theatrical backdrop. This push and pull sensationalizes the concept of “seeing out” of oneself while also “seeing through” oneself.