The Untitled Space is pleased to present the debut U.S. solo exhibition of Italian photographic artist Giulia Grillo aka Petite Doll, opening on November 4th and on view through November 19th, 2022. Curated by Indira Cesarine, the self-titled exhibition showcases a range of artworks that highlight the artist’s surreal performance-based photography. A number of works from Grillo’s ongoing series The Crab Girl will premiere in the exhibition, as well as a selection from her latest mixed-media project, In the Name of Perpetual Connection. The unconventional intricacies that characterize a Petite Doll image, whether still photograph or video, reflect a contemplation of the familiar, which Grillo warps and expands into fully-realized characters that forgo traditional beauty standards in favor of the bizarre. Petite Doll seeks to take photography out of its conventional, comfortable, and objective role, manifesting and distorting intricate concepts in her work, from the unsettling to the cute, holding a mirror to contemporary society and its underlying fears and desires. Using a wide array of symbolic objects, from elaborate sculptures to everyday objects, she transforms herself into distinct characters. Her sculptural molds made of polymer clay, SFX prosthetics, resin, and plaster, along with her distinctive makeup, costumes, and sets that she creates herself, build a bridge between the physical and digital worlds. Each carefully crafted scene she presents puts her preference for practical effects over digital manipulation on full display, often including intricate prosthetics to manifest darkly fantastical worlds that are nothing short of cinematic in their scale. Featuring photographs, videos, and behind-the-scenes archives spanning her artistic career, Giulia Grillo aka Petite Doll introduces an artist whose surrealism has a sardonic taste for the gorgeous and the grotesque in equal parts.
“Under the moniker ‘Petite Doll,’ I use my own figure to impersonate abstracted feelings and compelling themes. Each work is a manifestation of an intricate concept that whips from the unsettling to the cute and reflects contemporary society and its underlying fears and desires. Using a wide array of symbolic objects, from elaborate sculptures to everyday things, I distort and bend the idea of beauty, fusing it with a sense of the grotesque.
In my self-portraits, I try to simulate the appearance of a doll in order to create a dreamlike dimension that raises questions about what is real and what is not. I combine surrealism with photography, transforming myself into different grotesque characters. Each work carries a manifestation of intricate concepts, from the unsettling to the cute, and pushes the boundaries of what is possible.
Creating props and looks for my photoshoots is one of the most important parts of the process. It’s when I challenge my creativity to bring ideas to life. I use different mediums and techniques, such as polymer clay, SFX prosthetics, resin, plaster, etc. Sometimes it seems that there’s a lot of Photoshop work going on, but I always use real objects, as they give a sense of materiality that is not always achievable digitally. My images are full of metaphors and symbolism. I like to turn familiar situations into something extraordinary, as it actively stimulates the imagination of the viewer. The visual paradox is one of the most symbolic elements of my work. If you look closely at my art, you’ll see that everything creates contrast, even the way I use colors. I create a visual balance between opposites: Beautiful and grotesque, rational and irrational, desire and repulsion, delicacy and brutality, reality and dreams.” – Giulia Grillo, aka Petite Doll
Since beginning her career under the “Petite Doll” moniker, Grillo’s art has been exhibited internationally and was previously featured in The Untitled Space’s “INNOVATE” and “REBEL” exhibitions. She completed a degree in Graphic Design in Italy before moving to London to pursue a Master of Arts in Photography from the University of the Arts London. Since her relocation to the UK, she has been featured in exhibitions including The Brick Lane Gallery’s “Photography Now” (2017), Boomer Gallery’s “Icon” (2022) with Image Nation Milan, 2022, and The Other Art Fair, London, 2022. Grillo credits her first years in London as essential to the development of Petite Doll’s artistic style. The Girl With Lobster Hands, the human-crustacean hybrid first created in 2019 and Grillo’s “most representative character,” continues to be a signature representation of the artist’s beautifully bizarre surrealism and satire. Recently, she has expanded beyond still photography and into video art and NFTs, adding new dimensions to her uniquely realized world. Her debut solo show at The Untitled Space marks her first exhibition as a represented artist of the gallery.
ABOUT THE UNTITLED SPACE
The Untitled Space is an art gallery located in Tribeca, New York in a landmark building on Lispenard Street. Founded in 2015 by Indira Cesarine, the gallery features an ongoing curation of exhibits from emerging and established contemporary artists that explore conceptual frameworks and boundary-pushing ideologies through painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, video, and performance art. The gallery is committed to exploring new ideas vis-à- vis traditional and new mediums and highlights a program of women in art. Cesarine’s curatorial for The Untitled Space includes solo shows for artists Sarah Maple, Alison Jackson, Rebecca Leveille, Fahren Feingold, Jessica Lichtenstein, Philip A. Robinson Jr., Loren Erdrich, Tom Smith, Kat Toronto aka Miss Meatface, and Jeanette Hayes, among many others. Notable group shows include “The REBEL Exhibition” in commemoration of the 10th Anniversary “REBEL Issue,” “UNRAVELED: Confronting The Fabric of Fiber Art,” “Art4Equality x Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness,” “IRL: Investigating Reality,” “BODY BEAUTIFUL,” “EDEN” and “(HOTEL) XX” at SPRING/BREAK Art Show, “SHE INSPIRES,” and internationally celebrated group shows “UPRISE/ANGRY WOMEN” and “ONE YEAR OF RESISTANCE,” curated in response to the political climate in America, as well as numerous other critically acclaimed exhibitions. Recent press on The Untitled Space includes Vogue (US), Vogue Italia, The New York Times, Forbes, Newsweek, W Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Teen Vogue, New York Magazine, i-D Magazine, Dazed, CNN Style, and The Huffington Post, among many others.