During this time when donning a mask is, or should be, as natural as yanking on a pair of socks, Diane Dal-Pra has found an ideal time to investigate her ongoing interest in our relationship with objects. Of Course You Are, the title of her debut solo exhibition opening July 16 at Cob Gallery in London, presents the new body of work in which the French artist considers the intricacies of identity and the relationships we form with inanimate objects, which do become “the fabric of our lives”—especially as sheltering in place has elevated their importance.

"I guess it was a way to question how we build our image of representation," Diane Dal-Pra told Juxtapoz about the stream of thought that inspired these pieces. "I tried to find a visual way to transcribe this idea of construction, of something we shape in order to show." Through her sensual images, rich in detail, she dramatically imparts  the often conflicting choices we make in  presenting our bodies, ourselves, to the outside world. Softening elements, draped and bound, present themselves as sculptural compositions, often filling the entire, large scale canvases and often venturing into Surrealist territory. "But it is not by what we see so much as by what is hidden," she suggests about her subtle method of concealment.

Everything You Built 2020 Oil on canvas 1620 x 1300mm

By comparing the most recent with the two of the oldest works in the show, Una Vita Cosi or La Caduta, which were painted during her residency at Palazzo Monti in Italy last year, the tendency to entirely disguise these portraits in fabrics and the everyday objects is apparent. "Hiding faces and using exaggeration in transcribing the shapes of objects and textiles, by almost making them look like armor, was a way to stress duality," Dal-pra explains about the current pieces that obscure the human figure. "At the end, we become a kind of totem we design ourselves. Something sculptural, imposing, and strangely cold." 

With her work, the Paris-based artist suggests that these choices can  strongly define our identity as we allow ourselves to disappear behind material presence. Between the classical elements such as drapery, formal vases, flowers, and busts occupying space, as well as ubiquitous glasses of water and plastic drink stirrers, she  creates a past, present and future that creates and awaits. —Sasha Bogojev