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Claire Stigliani: Facets of Fantasy at Tory Folliard

Jun. 13, 2017
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Even when at her most real, Claire Stigliani’s art lives in a sort of dream world. She draws, paints and sculpts works that are inherently autobiographical, but their poetic quality gives them a touch of otherworldliness. Even if the subject of a piece is the “Real Housewives” TV franchise, Stigliani’s aesthetic pixie dust offers a patina of charm.

With previous showings at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and Dean Jensen Gallery, Stigliani’s work may not be unfamiliar. However, there are plenty of new pieces in her current show at Tory Folliard Gallery, “Dream Within a Dream.” The title is spot-on, particularly as the exhibition wraps itself around various reference points. The more you look at each work, the more you will recognize. 

The centerpiece in the gallery is a multi-part sculpture which is almost diorama-like in its diminutive details. One part shows the artist in her bedroom, lounging and sketching while watching videos on a computer screen. Around her are familiar detritus: art supplies, coffee cups, books and magazines. In other segments of the sculpture, there is a garden, fairytale bedroom  and a pink bathtub in which a black leather-clad woman is bound with ropes that loop gracefully over a nearby easel (this is Stigliani’s personal metaphor for drawing). There is also a lovely grisaille maquette of Titania and Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

All of these characters appear in the drawings on the walls. Through the nearly two dozen pieces on view, themes are reiterated and reinterpreted. The drawings of the aforementioned “Real Housewives” characters are one of the images on the computer screen that the artist draws in the sculpture, and the finished works are on the walls. There are also drawings of the artist’s room, and Stigliani’s self-portrait appears in a tiny picture in the model fairytale bedroom.

Opposites shift in Stigliani’s work as a whole. Fantasy and fairytales merge with reality, combining to become a tangible vision while still touching the world of imagination. “Dream Within a Dream” escapes from reality by cleverly twisting its embrace.

Through June 30 at Tory Folliard Gallery, 233 N. Milwaukee St. For an online video interview with the artist, visit the Art Review section at shepherdexpress.com.

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