statements | writings

Julia Fish

Between: Stairs and Landings

Rhona Hoffman Gallery, April 18 – May 30, 2008

The exhibition is dedicated, with deep gratitude, to the memory of Professor Marco Pozzetto (1925-2006).

“Our perceptions are undoubtedly interlaced with memories, and, inversely, a memory (…) only becomes actual by borrowing the body of some perception into which it slips. These two acts, perception and recollection, always interpenetrate each other, are always exchanging something of their substance as by a process of endosmosis.”

– Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory, 1896 / 1908; 1991.
Zone Books, New York

This selection from recent gouache on paper studies developed in reference to the two staircases that occupy opposing corners of my home and studio / residence in Chicago. The images translate transitional architectural space in visual and conceptual terms that extend, yet are distinct from, the previous Living Rooms, drawings and paintings completed 2001- 2005.

Integral to my daily, lived experience, these stairs and landings lead me from, and return me to their respective destinations, east and west. Initially, the traced profiles and dimensions of the stairs and landings, as well as their given material or color, served to anchor their visual identities. As the drawings progressed, the two colorations of gouache (variants of brown and green-gray) became inseparable from each stair’s profile (read as elevation), as well as the different representations of the east and west landings (read as plan). The images began to re-inscribe themselves into the practical events of life and work: each climb or descent – east or west – offered an increasingly ‘visualized’ experience, and I began to understand these particular stairs and landings in more self-reflexive terms.

Importantly, the material attributes of gouache – with its alternately pleasurable and distressing capacity for a fresh application of paint to re-dissolve the previous layer(s) of pigment – provided opportunity to recognize certain visual and subjective meanings housed within the reversals, insertions, and transpositions of measure, step and pause: between stairs and landings.


Professor Marco Pozzetto, architect and architectural historian, University of Trieste, Italy, provided generous insight and guidance to the work of Max Fabiani, architect (1865-1962), when I traveled to Trieste in 2001 and 2005. Through Marco and his wife Gabriella Pozzetto’s kind assistance, I was fortunate to visit many of Fabiani’s graceful, light-filled interior stairways, which offer extraordinary articulation to his buildings in Vienna, Ljubljana, Trieste and Gorizia, and inspired the development of this recent work.

April, 2008