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Most reviews of Dianna Molzan’s work include descriptions of her sculptural use of painting (“it’s a standoff between surface and support,” one review proclaims; “floating somewhere between painting and sculpture and entirely comfortable with their undefined state,” pens another). The stretcher bar, a constant through centuries of paintings, holds so much historical weight. That Molzan all but dismisses these bones of tradition is significant. Like a child running excitedly toward the shoreline, then dashing away right before getting wet, Molzan plays with and tests the boundaries of the medium, all while staying firmly within them.
Molzan’s second solo show at Kristina Kite Gallery includes two additional walls and a soft, sky blue paint has been added to the ceiling. The color softens the gallery’s riotous checkerboard flooring, allowing Molzan’s eight paintings, placed somewhat sparingly around the room, to command the space and draw you in.
Though all of the works are untitled, the onomatopoeic exhibition title Fizzz imbibes the already-active work with added frenetic life. Certainly, Molzan’s tangerine, lavender, and lime color palette, bulbous shapes, and zigzagging lines evoke a sense of playful joy. Pink pillow forms humorously erupt from layers of fringe; garish colors abutt bold swirling doodles. Yet her work is also soberingly deliberate. One glance at the precise stitching on her plush forms or the perfectly-assembled stretcher bars—exposed in many of the works—reveals that for Molzan, elated art-making is not synonymous with an airy or nonchalant application.
Molzan removed all the vertical threads from the stretched canvas of one simple green and lavender geometric painting, so that the piece—now comprised of only the horizontal threads—slumps with gravity. Here, the painting becomes softened, more vulnerable, while other works in the show flex defiantly around the stretcher bars to different effect. In a duo of paintings towards the back, Molzan wraps too-small canvas around the belly of her stretcher bars (like prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe), turning the canvas into a bulbous waving form that exposes the edges of the stretchers beneath. Yet, as if to reign in her own dimensional audaciousness, the painting depicts only simple geometric cubes placed stoically in the composition’s center.
Molzan is quoted in the press release: “Carbonation makes life more exciting…thinking of fizzy water as life with art.” Molzan is referring as much to the ways that art affects culture-at-large as to her own dedication to studio practice. Being serious about joy is a radical stance in today’s frantic frenzy of political anxiety. And Fizzz aptly straddles the polarities of tense control and a buoyant cheerfulness, as if fighting for a space somewhere in between. Situated between the sky blue that rests calmly above the busy checkerboard floor, Fizzz is a modern day ode to playfulness amidst a manic anxiety.
Dianna Molzan: Fizzz runs from February 15–April 13, 2019 at Kristina Kite Gallery (3400 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90018).