Sheila Ghidini-Visual Artist

Incantation 2022

Pastine Projects is pleased to present a solo show of sculptures and
drawings by Sheila Ghidini.

What is not and that which is

Sheila Ghidini writes “I’m interested in calling attention to the ubiquitous, but often overlooked spaces between things, as well as the shadows cast by them…..what’s lost, missing, or obscured is as critical to the work, if not more so, then that which is tangibly present.”

In his seminal book The Poetics of Space (1958), Gaston Bachelard attributes our poetic and imaginative lives to the interior spaces we inhabit unconsciously, but which nonetheless have the power to evoke strong emotions and reconnect us with deeper parts of ourselves and the universe. The domestic space within which we exist stimulates reveries that connect us with our unconscious to form a “poetic image” or creative outlet. Ghidini’s use of the quotidian form of a chair and its negative spaces summons our profound connection to the architecture of the home. For Ghidini, a reconfigured chair, emphasizing the void, “serves as a marker in space, a symbol of both presence and absence, and a fundamental architectural form that also has the potential to hold memory.”

Tapping into what she refers to as “the consumer waste stream”, Ghidini finds her chairs on the street or sources them from hand-me-downs. Playing actual shadows against illusory ones made of graphite and chalk on the wall, she manipulates and re-forms the chairs to confound the viewer’s perception of what is there and what is not, connecting the unconscious with a poetic image.

Ghidini further explores these concerns in her carefully rendered abstracted drawings and assemblages. Her drawings are inspired by her sculpture, Pivot, in which she pivoted a chair on its axis to create a feeling of both movement and stillness. The shapes used in the assemblages are taken from the negative spaces in drawings of chairs, then cut out of cardboard to allow for more folding and dimensionality. Ghidini’s richly nuanced works closely examine relationships between objects, space, and cast shadows, connecting us with overlooked and unseen spaces to reveal the poetry of absence and its relationship to our creative subconscious.

Francesca Pastine

Sheila Ghidini's work encompasses drawing, sculpture, installation and site-specific public art. Her work has been shown and collected in private and public collections including The Archenbach Collection of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Runneymede Farm Sculpture Park in Woodside, CA, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She attended Hartford Art School, University of Hartford and did graduate work at Cranbrook Academy of Art. She completed an M.F.A. in sculpture at the University of California, Berkeley, receiving the Sylvan and Pam Coleman Memorial Fellowship. She was an artist-in residence at The Headlands Center for the Arts and The American Academy in Rome summer program. She has received grants from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, the Krasner-Pollack Foundation, the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Marcelle Labaudt Memorial Fund, Rockefeller Foundation, and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. Her public projects engage communities, architecture and the landscape. She has created public gathering spaces in San Jose, Campbell and Emeryville, CA. Sheila collaboratively designed two MUNI Transit shelter on 19th Ave., in San Francisco and one shelter in Lodi, CA. Sheila has taught art in schools throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco State University, University of California Berkeley, San Francisco Art Institute, and California College of the Arts.

For me, art is a way to filter the world; to make sense of things; to create a container for the contradictions and ambiguities of being alive. The chair form serves as a leitmotif in my sculptures and drawings. I find the chair form compelling, as a marker in space, as a symbol of both presence and absence, and as a fundamental architectural form that also has the potential to hold memory. I’m interested in calling attention to the ubiquitous, but often overlooked spaces between things as well as the shadows cast by them. This interest developed from years of observational drawing, both that of my own and of the students that I teach. Rendering is a skill which requires close examination of the relationships between objects and space. Negative spaces and cast shadows might be considered to be empty or as an absence, but I perceive them as full and rich with nuance. Coupled with my drawing interest, I’m compelled to make objects. The quotidian forms of chairs and domestic furniture serve as my material. They are sourced from the street and the consumer waste stream, and along with my own inventions, reveal themselves to be both vulnerable and structural. Illusionary shadows made of graphite and chalk play against those that are real. What’s lost, missing, or obscured is as critical to the work, if not more so, than that which is tangibly present.