Through her paintings, Rapone invokes the willing suspension of disbelief, the engagement of suspicion, except of certain sorts, aligned along particular interests or ideas shared with, or communicated to us by, the characters she portrays. Initially conceived as coping mechanisms for a future as a failed painter, Rapone’s portraits now tap into consequences of exposure: humiliation,vulnerability, self-doubt and self-deprivation.
Her autobiographical characters – most often women – are proxies to her discomfort felt at new ideas and approaches, the doubt in her own representation and object-making, her inability to mediate success once exposed to it, and the abstract possibilities opened up and emphasized by these failures. The women twist and turn in the picture plane, unapologetically voluminous and on display. They have
presence. They take up space. Fully exposed, this display is at times uncomfortable. The rare male figure is more accessory than protagonist.
Placed in situational circumstances ranging from the very ordinary – enjoying one’s own company with a drink - to the subliminally ridiculous - running in athleisure with wild birds – Rapone’s subjects are however linked in their commitment to their assigned task. The gulf separating understanding and experience resonates in much of Rapone’s imagery and process. Each task necessitates the use of
specific clothing, color, adornment and surface qualities, to the extent that the characters become obscured within their environment. This self-deprecating approach defines the intentional openness and
mutability of meaning she has built into her practice. Visual harmonies, however imperfect, are the result.
Referencing Dutch Golden Age painting, Cubism, Chicago Imagists, and 1980’s Figuration, alongside her Italian Catholic North Jersey upbringing, Celeste Rapone’s autobiographical portraits consider each of
these histories as they express a commitment to mundane rituals. These narratives of anticipation, doubt, and navigation of the unknown act doubly as a metaphor for painting itself.