Piff Paff, 2023

acrylic, spray and glitter on canvas

70.87h x 51.18w in

Baby Balla Balla, 2023

Acrylic, spray paint, and oil on canvas

51.18h x 70.87w in

Yee Yee, 2023

Acrylic, spray paint, and oil on canvas

51.18h x 39.37w in

Hü Hott, 2023

acrylic and glitter on canvas

15.75h x 11.81w in

From Father To Son, 2023

acrylic and glitter on canvas

70.87h x 51.18w in

We Should All Be Feminist, 2023

Acrylic & spray paint on canvas

70.87h x 51.18w in


Balla Balla

39 Lispenard St.

June 9 – July 15, 2023

Freight + Volume presents Balla Balla, an exhibition of recent paintings by Andalusia-based

artist Gabrielle Graessle. Balla Balla will be on view at 39 Lispenard St. June 9 – July 8, 2023.

The paintings of Swiss-born artist Gabrielle Graessle depict complex emotional and social

realities with an almost hieroglyphic directness. Reveling in color and the use of spectacular, or

otherwise unconventional materials (such as glitter), her wilding use of paint and pigment is

tempered by a sense of minimalism which might be called austere—if not for the fact that her

paintings are so childlike and fun

Graessle’s work generally tends towards a formalism which generates its own symbology. Her

allusions to themes like war, feminism, sexuality and love, are all expressed in ways that verge

on abstraction. But this movement away from the particulars of experience to universal

representations isn't navigated arbitrarily. A continuous sense of lightness, play, exuberance

radiates from her figures—even when the themes she's working around might otherwise appear


Wielding riotous colors and graffiti-like language to communicate her singular vision, one of

Graessle’s untitled pieces—composed of acrylics, spray paint and glitter—especially stands out

for its quasi-mythic character. An off-centered horse constitutes the theme of the picture: as a

figure, this horse almost seems on the brink of escaping from the dimensions of the frame. With

an engorged head lolling against its leftmost edge, his overtly large presence lends the painting

an almost comical aspect, while also suggesting the impossibility of escaping the illusive realm

of paint and pigment into the spatial possibilities afforded by our everyday reality.

Many of Graessle’s paintings portray women in various states of dishabille; but the sitters in her

portraits never feel objectified or exposed. Rather than being lewds, in each painting of a

woman’s body her face is emphasized—often arranged into an expression that resembles a

hieratic eye gazing back at the viewer who gazes at her.

In one particular work—also untitled, yet dating from 2022—a reclining woman seems to look

out of the painting towards the viewer. More confident than coy, the elliptical curve which

constitutes her mouth, like a Cheshire Cat’s smile, is set against a horizon neatly divided

between earth and sky, the tellurian and the cosmic. This supple division works to foreground

the winsome character of the figure’s face, adding a heightened significance to the elements

composing the picture.

Graessle’s canvases distinguish themselves from traditional abstraction by bringing every

shape, every suggestion of color, towards the convergence of a decentralized theme. Her

reliance on natural form never fails to engage with socially astute insights. Emerging from the

serrated edges of her craftsman-like abstraction, nature itself, in all its spontaneity, seems to

glaze the surface of each work like a spectral amber. Within this glow, Graessle gives expression

to the nature of happiness and the meaning of revolt, all the while mimicking a child’s naivety.