In My (Head) Space

Annabella Pugliese

My work creates a colorful and enveloping alternate reality for myself and for the viewer.  It is inspired by my passion for immersive art, particularly that of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, who creates large-scale installations that effectively transport the viewer from reality to a unique world of visual intrigue. I have set out to construct a three-dimensional space of my own that resembles a minimized home interior or living space.  Originally, each surface was to be covered with a uniform pattern of colored lines and dots. The direction and meaning of the project shifted, however, when I was forced to leave my university campus and return home due to the developing pandemic.

Instead of a clean, white, and well-lit gallery, I now needed to construct the installation in the dark, cold, and somewhat eerie basement of my house. This new location made the work itself even stranger and more isolating than before. As I struggled with a lack of closure and sense of loss after abruptly saying goodbye to my friends and academic home, it became all the more necessary to use this project to distract myself from an uncertain reality. It thus evolved into a personal space of self-expression and escapism.  Yet as I worked, the project seemed to become increasingly relevant to what was going on in the world. While it offered a creative escape, it also mimicked the isolation of social distancing and the likelihood that people were resorting to virtual realities of their own, staring at screens all day.

By giving myself creative freedom, the resulting designs were much more organic and spontaneous than originally imagined. Nonetheless, there was still an intentional method behind the seemingly random application of paint. Starting with loose splotches of color as the base, I gradually layered increasingly detailed shapes and patterns color by color, concealing messy brushstrokes and any white space beneath. Inspired by the work of Keith Haring, I used simple shapes, symbols, and lines to create a visual language for myself. The process of layering and refining multiple layers of vibrant and sometimes competing colors conveys the disarray of my current thoughts and emotions, and illustrates my attempt to make sense of them.

The result is a hypnotic spectacle full of dichotomies. The work is captivating and compelling to enter, but once experienced from within, it can feel overwhelming and intense. A familiar yet uncanny living space, the simultaneous distraction from and reminder of reality, and the chaotic yet harmonious explosion of color create a concurrent sense of both anxiety and solace, echoing the experience of being isolated with one’s inner thoughts. My work explores the balance of simplicity and chaos, tranquility and unease, and is a space that, when occupied, encourages introspection.

-Annabella Pugliese

Annabella Pugliese, In My (Head) Space, painted room installation with chair & tv, 2020.