Left: Dianna Molzan, untitled, 2009, oil on canvas, 24 x 20”. Right: Dianna Molzan, untitled, 2011, oil on linen and canvas on fir, 34 x 29”.


Dianna Molzan is an artist based in Los Angeles. “Bologna Meissen,” her first solo show in New York as well as her first museum exhibition, will feature twelve works, including five that will be on view there for the first time. The show opens at the Whitney Museum on April 8.

LIKE MANY PEOPLE, I spend a lot of time visiting art museums. I especially like to visit the big museums and explore the seemingly endless rows of vitrines that contain artisan objects and old bits of stuff from cultures long gone. I think that all of this perusing and my curiosity about these objects, which aren’t necessarily given much context in the galleries, have affected my approach to making paintings.

In museums, objects are nearly equalized; that is, there seems to be this process that brings culturally and historically varied works into the present moment for the viewer. For example, in a single afternoon, and under one roof, you can see a pre-Columbian clay pot, a panel of Victorian lace, an El Greco painting, and a Claes Oldenburg soft sculpture––so it does not seem that odd to me to kind of re-create that viewing experience within a group of paintings.

Painting has a wonderful ability to conjure up so many diverse qualities using unchanging materials (paint, canvas, frame support)––one work can look sumptuous while another looks coarse, and it all depends on how the materials are applied. Even though it can be said that I am revealing the structure of painting in my work, illusionism is still very present.

There is no sense of hierarchy from one painting to the next in my work, but instead there is a path of idiosyncratic influence that changes from day to day. This is a conversation about a fascination with objects. In my studio, I am responding to objects and I am making other objects that I want people to have a sensory response to, that spark an internal and independent engagement. This is why I do not title my works. When you are moving through the world and come upon something compelling and random, it often does not come with a caption and a title, and you must rely on your own wits and deductive reasoning to make sense of it.

In my mind I am not deconstructing painting; instead I am exploring and maximizing everything up for grabs inherent to it. More than anything else, I feel like an enthusiast.

— As told to Lauren O’Neill-Butler