Ester Pugliese

Ester Pugliese

Ester Pugliese is a Toronto-based artist. A graduate of York University (Canada) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Specialized Honours) in painting and drawing, Pugliese is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships. She also studied in the prestigious BA Fine Art Program at Leeds University (UK). Her works have been acquired by the Donovan Collection, Capital One, Microsoft and collectors in North America and Europe. Pugliese has exhibited with Loop Gallery since 2011, and her work is available through Partial Gallery. Having explored visual/aural relationships and our intangible surroundings for years, much of Pugliese’s recent work draws attention to the magnitude of today’s volatile earth forces while borrowing from the conventions of other disciplines (music/sound) to present imaginary situations and environments that are loosely informed by Italian cultural narratives and folklore. Envisioning still life painting through coral reef glasses, Pugliese’s ‘Measured Calm’ series brims with colour. Tangled chalky lines and vibrant gestural brushstrokes intermingle with carefully drawn botanicals, conjuring verdant earthly gardens and shimmering aquatic forests. Splotches in muted hues peak out from behind larger patches of rich colour resembling land masses or approximations of the darks and lights in a floral bouquet. Geometric shapes at the surface of the picture plane solidify the sense of looking through a depth of space. With diverse references ranging from endangered species and weather patterns, to cut flower arrangements, children’s amusements and Italian folk music, this series reminds us why the natural world needs protecting. Each composition achieves a heady visual clutter that reflects the overwhelming nature of contemporary society. In the still life, or “Vanitas”, paintings of Italy and the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries, the items depicted were intended as poetic metaphor with flowers as a symbol of the transience of life. Today the commodification of flowers asks consumers to turn a blind eye to whether the flowers are endangered, ethically sourced, or economically wasteful. These paintings convey flowers as fragile life forms; carefully rendered details of plants being swallowed by veils of pattern and colour suggest the likelihood of the plants’ demise through human intervention. The titles, based on ominous weather forecast scripts, hint at a desire to reverse the negative effects of our reliance on material possessions.

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