Running from 29 October until 3 December 2022, Handle With Care will feature thirteen new paintings by the artist whose wide-ranging career has seen her working on children's books, animated films, advertisements and album covers. This exhibition represents her third appearance at the Corey Helford Gallery, following Relazioni Pericolose in November 2019 and Hide and Seek in August 2017.
Known for her work which explores how childlike wonder and innocence can curdle into emotional turmoil, the acrylic paintings on display at Handle With Care are a prime example of the dark twists her subjects can take. Expect to see decapitated bodies contemplating their giant heads in fish tanks, and an innocent girl watches her balloon explode with a bloody splatter.
Role reversal is a staple of the San Marinian artist's repertoire, often deployed to blur the lines between good and evil and remind viewers that this line is finer than they suspect. Made all the more dreamlike thanks to her richly detailed style, Nicoletta says her work is an attempt to offer a delectable balance of repulsive and attractive." Adding, "What is beautiful and sweet often hides dark suggestions."
In the body of work on display, her new paintings bring together themes of love and loss, innocence and maturity, and life and death. She says that the narratives in these paintings examine her own strengths and weaknesses, yet she paints these feelings with a trademark and irresistible sense of humour and "psychological tension".
Nicoletta says: "I show our fragile nature as humans. 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."
These contradicting poles are personified in a pink tufted and fragile ballerina figurine who appears to conjure her own head from a top hat as she ponders the whereabouts of her own mind, while in another, we witness the quiet yet mighty power of Little Red Riding Hood as she tames the big bad wolf with her charms.
The artist adds, "Showing vulnerability is how I come to understand more about myself and the world I inhabit. Just like in life, you can see a duality in these works. Childlike fantasies are punctuated with anxieties common in adulthood.
"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 opens Saturday, 29 October, from 7:00pm to 11:00pm in Gallery 3, alongside a solo show from Brandi Milne, titled Everything I Ever Was, in the Main Gallery.