Commentary | Dellamarie Parrilli, Artist l contemporary, abstract, experimental.

Dellamarie Parrilli


The sense of movement in painting is a mysterious quality. It is a purely visual sensation that alludes to the kinesthetic awareness of our own body in space. Although the movement is virtual, existing only in the realm of perception, it relates to the actual painterly gesture producing the image before our eyes.

The art of Dellamarie Parrilli manifests these conundrums of visuality. She creates mixed media works that are full of different kinds of movement, simultaneously. She paints with expressive freedom, with spills, strokes and droplets of intense, transparent color, seemingly suspended, as if painted on the surface of water.

Each of Parrilli’s pieces is like a magic trick, which even when you see how it works, you are still intrigued, charmed by your own willing participation. She paints with acrylic, watercolor and inks on thin sheets of plastic that are embossed with patterns that suggest moving liquid. This implied movement ranges from complex bubbling to languid pooling. The embossing of the plastic sheet creates a lenticular effect, with the reflective image altering slightly with the viewer’s changing position.

On the surface (and at times on both front and back) Parrilli paints in concert with and in counterpoint to the patterns in the plastic. The improvisational shapes, formed by the liquid paint, flow across the picture plane even as we see through them to the transparent support below. The effect is akin to stained glass, which we perceive both as an image and as the phenomenon of colored light held in a material matrix.

Parrilli’s works have a wide spectrum of moods and painterly approaches. There are the cut-outs, often gestural, calligraphic works, whose shape is determined by the curves and floods of color. A group of works are in a square format, with all-over compositions ranging from loose geometrical structures to deluges of flowing pigment. A series of vertical panels immerse the viewer in liquid depths, calling to mind the floating space of Chinese landscape painting.

Central to Parrilli’s art is the sense of being transported to a world apart that is both beautiful and strange, full of reflections and shifting, jewel-like color. The fugitive images, always reforming with one’s perspective, can be both unsettling and suggestive of the ever-changing quality of nature and our own existence. Her work makes literal the moving effect that art can have, intimating that beyond the apparent is another way to see, a new way to appreciate the life that we thought we knew.

– John Mendelsohn


John Mendelsohn is a painter based in New York who has written articles and reviews on contemporary art for ArtNet, Sculpture Magazine, dArt International, Cover Magazine and The Jewish Week, as well as essays for exhibition catalogues. He has contributed to the forthcoming book, A Book of Images: Reflections on Symbols, to be published by Taschen in conjunction with the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism at the C.G. Jung Institute, New York. He teaches in the Studio Art Program at Fairfield University.