Fine Arts Life + Arts

Two artists bring innovative exhibitions to Blaffer

The Blaffer Art Museum held its first Sunday opening and brunch, featuring the works of Candice Breitz and Francesca DiMattio.

“It’s an effort to do something different in the art world,” said Matt Johns, director of external relations at the Blaffer Art Museum. “We’re always kind of looking for something to challenge the traditional ideas of what a museum is supposed to do, what a cultural institution is supposed to do, what we’re supposed to do on campus.”


Breitzs’ show is composed of many videos separated by curtains. |  Sara Samora/The Daily Cougar

For Breitz — who hails from South Africa — this will be her first presentation of her video installation, “The Woods,” at an American museum. The installation is a trilogy that revolves around Hollywood as well as India’s (Bollywood) and Nigeria’s (Nollywood) versions of Hollywood.  Additionally, the video installation follows and explores the world of child actors from their respective countries, going through the audition, the rehearsal and the interview.  Thus, the first floor of the Blaffer museum was transformed to present the videos, with curtains as an entry to each video.

“They’re very different but similar industries,” Johns said. “She focuses on different show-business rituals, and I think that’s kind of a good, broad description of what she’s doing.”

John admitted that he did not know anything about Nollywood, not until he watched Breitz’s installation.

“I think the thing that was so appealing is that it’s a really kind of interesting cross-cultural show that works with these various societal movements,” Johns said.  “One of the things that we are constantly trying to do as an organization, as a cultural institution, as part of the University of Houston, is that we want to have these conversations, and reach audiences who will be comfortable with the topic and audiences that will be uncomfortable with the topics and learn something about it.  So it’s a perfect fit for the University of Houston, it’s a perfect fit for Houston in general.

Photo by Sara Samora

Dimattio’s work was a compilation of many sculptures and paintings. Photo by Sara Samora

For New York native DiMattio’s exhibition, “Housewares” this will be her first solo museum exhibition.  John adds that DiMattio is a big name emerging in the art world and through the art media and press.

“She gained a lot of support from the art world, and (Blaffer’s director and chief curator) Claudia (Schmuckli) was really excited to offer her her first solo museum exhibition.”

DiMattio’s work consists of sculptures and paintings.

“What Francesca does is blend traditional genre styles and periods within her work and it is this nice mix of abstract and recognizable domestic objects, where furnishings and objects collide,” Johns said of DiMattio’s paintings.

As for her sculptural work, he said it is more abstract.

“At the same time, it’s a really intricate collage style of sculpture where you see lots of different patterns, textures, and techniques that reference different periods and different masses of sculpture that you see in domestic pieces like vases, kind of like the intricate details you might see in a pattern of your mom’s old teapot.”

One of DiMattio’s standout pieces was a six-foot chandelier.

“(The chandelier) looks very similar to her smaller sculptural pieces,” John said. “It’s so interesting because it’s so massive but it also looks so delicate at the same time.  It’s very three-dimensional.”

“We really wanted to celebrate these accomplishments with these artists and it’s something that we’re excited about and something worth celebrating with the community,” Johns said. “Houston is a city of opportunity. So there are lots of things that can happen here.  It’s a city that welcomes change and new faces.”

Breitz’s installation, “The Woods” will run until Sept. 13, and DiMattio’s “Housewares” will run until Aug. 30.  For more information, visit

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