Photo of Antonietta Grassi.


Antonietta Grassi has been committed to the practice of abstract painting for most of her career. Her paintings, which at first appear as hard-edged geometric abstractions, are composed of multi-layered, painted surfaces where the touch of the hand is paramount. Grassi paints layered, intuitively derived forms that are intersected by fine, thread-like lines—creating works where textile, architecture, and painting’s twentieth century history collide. Through her nuanced and layered palette, she explores color and light to create perceptual spaces that are drawn from memory and imagination. The work is simultaneously mathematical and painterly, reflecting a process-driven approach that belies the organized compositions of the geometric forms prevalent in the works.

Antonietta Grassi’s paintings and works on paper have been featured in solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries in Canada, the United States, and in Europe, including Muséé National des Beaux-Arts du Quebec; Museo Civico di Molise in Casacalende, Italy; Kunstwerk Calshutte in Budelsdorf, Germany; the Boston Center for the Arts, Vermont Institute of Contemporary Arts in Chester; Trestle Gallery and Crossing Art in New York; Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio; the Bruce Lurie Gallery in Los Angeles; the McClure Gallery , Lilian Rodriguez and the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery in Montreal, Newzones in Calgary, and Leo Kamen, Artcore and John B. Aird Gallery in Toronto. In addition, her work is in public, corporate, and private collections, including the Musée National des Beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ), the Archives of Ontario, Museo Civico Di Molise, Groupe Desjardins, the Stewart Hall Museum in Pointe Claire,   the Boston Public Library, and Yamana Gold in Toronto, Canada. Grassi’s work was selected for two public art projects in Canada sponsored by Le Museé au Ciel Ouvert in St. Lambert and Showfrette in Beloeil, Quebec.

She is the recipient of awards and honours, including grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des Arts et Lettres du Quebec, her most recent  being a  Canada Council Project Grant in Visual Arts in 2017 for the series  “Contemplation For Obsolete Objects”. She is represented by the Patrick Mikhail Gallery in Montreal.

Artist Statement

I  paint distorted geometric forms in a nuanced and layered color palette as a  way to explore color, shape , light and line and how they inform our notions of objects, space  and memory. Perhaps no memory being stronger than that associated with one’s childhood home, my paintings reflect  spaces that have been shaped by these memories. Having lost both of my parents within a short time frame, I was confronted with the task of emptying my childhood home of its possessions. The psychological and physical impact of facing this process led me to explore fragments of deconstructed and nonsensical space through hollowed cubes, skewed geometric, translucent shapes, and threadlike lines that connect them all . What was once a home was transformed into a disembodied shell and what was left behind were obsolete objects with no use other than as containers of  memories.   My work delves into how  memories of the past produce fleeting blueprints for structuring the present, and how a delicate stability is attained through the language and solidity of color, shape and light.

My recent work ( 2017- 2019)  which continues to explore notions of memory  and obsolescence references textile production, analog technology, data processing and sewing and  weaving. This  work which was  traditionally associated with women has been or is being phased out due to newer technologies. The idea of obsolescence as a form of loss  captivates me, given that loss of relevance is not limited to objects due to advancement in technology, but  encompasses everything we ignore and discard in our present society, including people. These paintings attempt to honour this type of work and  is a meditiation on the slow repetitive tasks linked with jobs that have been phased out.  As a former textile designer and color forecaster , the use of line and color in my work is not arbitrary or simply formal.  The colors are influenced by events in the world such as the pervasive images of pink hats worn on January 21st 2017 by more than one million women who marched in Washington.  Other color references have ranged from Post It notes and  file folders to skin and  scars and rotary phones. My colors can just as easily come from looking at everyday objects , as they can from my  interest in the history of painting, a large social movement, and to the body itself.

Antonietta Grassi