Anna Betbeze, Francesca DiMattio, Elsa Hansen Oldham, Katie Stout: Saint ValentineMay 18th - July 29th, 2023
Nina Johnson is pleased to present Saint Valentine, a group exhibition featuring new works by Francesca DiMattio, Elsa Hansen Oldham, Anna Betbeze, and Katie Stout. Opening May 18 in the Upstairs Gallery, the show unites four artists and their shared relationships with various mediums traditionally associated with domesticity while incorporating elements of grit, grunge, violence and physicality.
The concept of Saint Valentine refers to both the aggressive nature of a Valentine (the speared heart, martyrdom, a murder ballad) and its saccharine qualities (excessive romance, exorbitant gifts) similar to the wicked weather and ever-changing conditions that consume Miami in the summer months.
“I am thrilled to see these artists overlap in one space outside of my own mind,” said Nina Johnson. “I was originally thinking about this group of artists and while connecting the threads, I felt there was a grittiness, a strangeness, something almost punk rock about all of their aesthetics that ties them together. Of course, there is the baroque, but what distinguishes the decorative from the conceptual, across all of their practices is a palpable sense of labor, the gesture and implication of their bodies and how they use themselves and their physicality to create these works.”
In her practice, Francesca DiMattio takes a layered and non-hierarchical approach to create paintings and ceramic sculptures. Culling manipulated imagery from a wide range of sources, DiMattio fuses abstraction and representation without fully adopting either style. For Saint Valentine, DiMattio showcases Greek-style and Meissen porcelain vessels, alongside a series of new furniture works. The vessels are intense and sharp, speaking to DiMattio’s methodology while honoring the history and antiquity of terracotta.
Known for her embroidered fiber works, Elsa Hansen Oldham weaves delicate cross-stitches of provocative public and religious figures. An ancient form of decoration ingrained with historical meaning, Oldham revitalizes the practice and connects cultures using embroidery as a means of communication. Featured in Saint Valentine are two needlepoint canvas works—the larger of the two works focuses on pop culture characters known for donning pink garb, from Glinda the Good Witch to Elsa Schiaparelli.
Anna Betbeze coalesces vision and touch to create a singular experience. Eschewing the canvas and turning to wool as a medium, the artist dyes, cuts, burns, and shaves her textured surfaces, transforming them into lush, large-scale wall hangings. For Saint Valentine, she presents a new series of paintings using vivid shades of royal blue on Flokati rugs, which carry a tension complementary to the intensity of her practice.
Katie Stout rounds out the exhibition with a presentation of major new works. Frog Jug, a large-scale sculpture of a frog holding a vase, playfully subverts, repels, and ultimately enchants history and the aesthetics of interior design. At once baroque and grotesque, the frog suggests both poison and princely fairy tales in the minds of the viewer. Flanking this work are two wall sconces and chandeliers, intricately wrought out of bronze and hand-blown glass. Stout tips the propriety of Victorian-era salons on its side, using her signature aesthetic to re-illuminate the cobwebbed corridors of art history.
Saint Valentine is on view through July 29, 2023.
About Anna Betbeze
Anna Betbeze (b 1980) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Betbeze has had solo exhibitions at MassMOCA, Utah MOCA, The Atlanta Contemporary, The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Nina Johnson, Miami, Markus Lüttgen, Cologne, Lüttgenmeijer, Berlin, Luxembourg & Dayan London, Kate Werble Gallery, New York, and Francois Ghebaly, Los Angeles. Her work is currently on view in Carnivalesca at the Kunstverein in Hamburg, Germany curated by Bettina Steinbrügge. Betbeze’s work has been shown at institutions such as MOMA PS1, Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, The Hessel Museum at Bard College, and The Power Station, Shanghai and has been reviewed in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Artforum, Modern Painters, New York Magazine, Frieze, and The Los Angeles Times. She is a recent recipient of the Rome Prize and the 2020 recipient of the Headlands Art Center Chiaro Award.
About Francesca DiMattio
Francesca DiMattio’s (b. 1981) practice combines a cacophony of influences, which she applies in a layered and non-hierarchical approach to her work. In both her sculpture and painting, she discovers ways to weave together the history and artistry of craft, transposing it from a practice of quiet control into one that seems unpredictable, explosive and shifting. Recent solo exhibitions include Boucherouite at Salon 94 Bowery, New York (NY); Francesca DiMattio: Housewares at the Bluffer Art Museum, Houston (TX) and Vertical Arrangements at the Zabludowicz Collection, London (U.K.). Her work is in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco (CA), the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College, Clinton (NY); the Perez Art Museum, Miami (FL); the Frances Young Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs (NY); the Saatchi Gallery, London (U.K.) and the Zabludowicz Collection.
About Elsa Hansen Oldham
Elsa Hansen Oldham (b. 1986) embroiders her fiber works with an eccentric array of tiny characters plucked from history, pop culture, politics, and personal association. Muhammad Ali, climate activist Greta Thunberg, and her own child number among the stitched features in her works. Oldham’s slyly humorous pieces range in scale from the size of a handkerchief to a quilt. Using a cross-stitching technique that resembles early computer graphics, her finished works merge the look of arcane digital rendering and traditional American craft. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Oldham worked for the artist Tom Sachs in New York. Her influences include video game design, Agnes Martin, Gee’s Bend quiltmakers, and Gunta Stölzl. She had a solo exhibition at the KMAC Museum in 2018.
About Katie Stout
Katie Stout (b.1989) is regarded as one of the leading designers of her generation. Her works have been featured in T Magazine, the New York Times, Apartmento, Artforum and numerous other publications. Stout’s work can be found in museums and private collections across the globe, including the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; and the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY. Katie Stout’s first solo exhibition was in Miami with Nina Johnson (then Gallery Diet) in 2015.