“What is beautiful and sweet often hides dark suggestions,” says children’s book illustrator Nicoletta Ceccoli of her latest solo show, Handle With Care.
Currently on view at Corey Helford Gallery in downtown Los Angeles, Handle With Care explores the ways innocence and childlike wonder can curdle into disappointment, depression, and darkness. “I show our fragile nature as humans,” the San Marinian-based artist says. “I blend the childlike and innocent with the grotesque by painting adorable-looking porcelain toys to look like biological beings, sometimes wounded and disturbing to look at, featuring elements of the grotesque and the cute breaking down, which pull the viewer between these opposing poles.”
Featuring 13 new paintings, rendered in acrylic on paper, Handle With Care invites viewers into a magical realm where good girls mingle with bad wolves—and good wolves mingle with bad girls. “Just like in life, you can see a duality in these works,” says Nicoletta on this particular aspect of her work. “Childlike fantasies are punctuated with anxieties common in adulthood.” Combining themes of love, loss, innocence, and maturity, the painter’s richly detailed work offers “a delectable balance of repulsive and attractive.”
Describing her narratives as an examination of personal strengths and weaknesses, Nicoletta creates scenes of psychological tension where young girls lay bare their darkest thoughts and impulses. “Showing vulnerability is how I come to understand more about myself and the world I inhabit,” she says. “Nothing is completely black or white. You can’t have the sweet without the bitter. These works reveal my deepest fears, and are a way for me to fight back against constraints, as well as seek power, independence, creativity, spirituality, and magic.”
Handle With Care is on view at Corey Helford Gallery in downtown Los Angeles through December 3. For more information, please visit the gallery here.
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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