Rachel Rose ON IT

June 27 – July 10, 2011
Opening reception: Monday, June 27, h.6-9 pm
The Venerable English College – Via di Monserrato, 42

ON IT is an exhibition of recent work by American painter Rachel Rose. Begun in Rome during the past year, this body of paintings and drawings returns for a solo show in the crypt of the Venerable English College in the capital’s historic center.

ON IT presents fifteen paintings made on Perspex and maple supports with acrylic, spray paint, enamel, resin, dyes and tape. “I am interested in images that are unable to exceed the weight of their own surfaces,” Rose has written. Smooth supports are encrusted with the physical evidence of reactions between the applied substances: iridescent pigmented blooms, crackled surface tension, wet reapplication, and dry scrapes.

Rose’s whole-hearted handling of surface materiality creates an immediate biological tension between viewer and painting. As Marina Cashdan has written in the Huffington Post, “Rose doesn’t see abstraction as void of content but where form, content and surface meet.” This belief in the surface’s potential to host content is rooted in research Rose has conducted on paintings by Renaissance and Baroque masters such as Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Lucas Cranach and Lorenzo Lotto.

Also included in the exhibition are fifteen drawings, made with ball-point pen on book pages printed with Old Master paintings, which make apparent the deeply ecstatic relationship between Rose’s work and these historical precedents. The pressure and density of the pen point’s repetitive strokes caress and obliterate each printed image, causing the paper to warp around select untouched swathes of its original surface.

Gathered in the spectacular vaulted crypt of the Venerable English College, Rose’s paintings are located in an environment which similarly wears its principal characteristics, durability and craftsmanship, on its surface: hand-made brick walls and ceilings rise above a stone stretch of ancient Roman road, the Via Triumphalis.

ON IT, an artist book of Rachel Rose’s paintings published in collaboration with L_A_N Magazine, will be on sale at the exhibition. Through the materiality of the illuminescent tracing paper, print process and binding, this printed artifact recuperates what is voided in the process of reproducing an image.

Rachel Rose (b. 1986, New York) lives and works in London. She received a BA in Art and Humanities from Yale University and an MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. In the fall of 2011, she will begin an MFA in painting at Columbia University. Rose has exhibited in group shows in London, Berlin and New York.

Diana Mellon works as an independent curator in Rome, Italy, where she has collaborated with DEPART Foundation and the American Academy in Rome. She graduated with a BA in Art History from Yale University.

Founded in 1362 as a hospice, the Venerable English College in Rome is the oldest English institution outside England. For two centuries it welcomed English pilgrims to Rome as a hostel, eventually becoming a stopping point for a variety of visitors from the poor and sick through John Milton and Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender. Since 1579 the College has been a seminary. Through six and a half centuries, it witnessed calamities such as the martyrdom of several of its students upon return to England immediately after Queen Elizabeth’s 1585 Act and the destructive occupation of Napoleonic troops two centuries later.

For further information and to schedule a visit, please contact:

+39 334 253 2553



Acrylic, gel medium, Toto dye on Perspex
20 x 24 in.


Acrylic, Toto dye, spray paint on Perspex
20 x 24 in.


Bic pen on Caravaggio print book cover
10 x 14 in.