Jenna Pirello is a contemporary painter that emphasizes the idea of process. In her most recent works, Pirello uses wood panel to transcend the traditional idea of a frame and creates an imperfect ground to work on. The organic nature of the wood panel reflects the unpredictability of the paint, which moves organically, resulting in vibrant, abstract pieces. A close look at Pirello’s painting Don't Touch Me- I'm a Real Live Wire reveals meticulous tracing that brings specific forms to the forefront. This painting reads almost as an abstract landscape; through color, Pirello establishes separate grounds reminiscent of a serene environment. This serenity is then challenged by the bright oranges throughout the painting that suggest an underlying urgency. Jenna Pirello creates a beautiful unity throughout her work through repetition of material and process.
When looking to expand the scale of her work, Pirello started using house paint during her undergraduate career. She explored unconventional ways of working, once using a mop on extremely large canvases. Pirello typically worked in acrylic because it allowed her to manipulate larger batches of paint. She notes that “there were years of just trial and error, getting a feel for what paint is capable of.”
Pirello generally describes herself as a process-based painter, often spending weeks drawing in order to develop an idea or temperament. The bulk of the decision making, however, is made in reaction to what the paint itself is doing. Describing her process as "a series of methodical excavations. Treating my body as a shapeshifter, I move rhythmically to change the pace, pressure and intention through various ways of touching the surface". She simultaneously uses intention and spontaneity together in order to build a dynamic image. Often spending 10 to 11 hours in the studio at a time, Pirello pursues certain tones, moods, and sensations in her work.
When choosing her titles, Pirello typically pulls from song titles, lyrics or lines from poetry. She has always learned through touch and the manipulation of materials and notes that “painting is the ultimate way to study the world and absorb as much information I can in order to put it back into my work.” With a background in art history, Pirello has been able to study a range of artists over the years, but draws the majority of her inspiration from her experiences with nature, music, and movies. She works rhythmically to change the pace and sensation of her paintings, similar to the sensations created by listening to a song or viewing a film.
When not in her studio, Pirello paints murals for Odili Donald Odiata. Often traveling 3 to 4 times a year around the country, and even the world, spending approximately 6 weeks on each mural. This opportunity has provided Pirello the chance to see cities that she probably would have never visited. While on the road, she focuses on drawing ideas for her own artworks.
Jenna Pirello received her BFA in painting and sculpture from Boston University in 2011, then went on to earn her MFA in painting from Yale University in 2014. Jenna was born in Newton, MA and grew up in the suburbs of Boston. She was recently granted a Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship from Provincetown MA, where she also exhibited in a solo fellow show titled Slow Disco in 2018. Jenna Pirello’s paintings will be on view from June 7th – August 19th, 2018 at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery.