Cristina Bunello returns to Cross Gallery with a haunting exhibition

Woman admires painting

Of Innocence and Of Experience in Cross Gallery. Photo by Conor McMahon

Italian artist Cristina Bunello comes back to Cross Gallery on Francis St with her new exhibition, Of Innocence and Of Experience. This is the artist’s second solo exhibition in the Cross Gallery since 2010’s Persona.

Bunello, who is based in Ireland, presents the audience with a series of small, snapshot portraits of young girls, painted with subtle details.

There is something unsettling about this collection. The viewer is drawn in by the girls’ deathly stares, and the exhibition’s title is somewhat sinister.

Three art fans at gallery opening

L-R: Robert Armstrong, Marcel Vidal and Diana Copperwhite at the opening of Of Innocence and Of Experience. Photo by Conor McMahon

A summary on Cross Gallery’s website describes the paintings as “profoundly private and subtle” and compares them to “images of a Renaissance or Pre-Raphaelite era.”

“The ethereal angelic faces…gaze back or away from the viewer with a wan, non-committal stare,” the description reads.

Art fans in Cross Gallery

Photo by Conor McMahon

“They are all young girls. This raises some questions: one rather uncomfortably asks whether the work may allude to the premature sexualisation of children, another ponders if Bunello is sentimentalising her own childhood,” the summary continues.

“The young girls, while embodying the innocence that is expected from children, also seem to have something that they should not have, this sense of having a history, has the effect of jolting the viewer. There is an unnerving feeling that everything is not as it should be.”

Three students at gallery opening

L-R: Octavian FitzHerbert, Eve Rogers and Sean O’Riordan. Photo by Conor McMahon

There is certainly a degree of mystery to Bunello’s work, which leaves the viewer curious.

This is a beautifully sparse and haunting exhibition – a mixture of innocence and angst. Well worth a visit.

Of Innocence and Of Experience by Cristina Bunello runs until December 7 in Cross Gallery, 59 Francis St.

Cross Gallery café is open 9am to 4.30pm Monday – Friday, and 10am to 4.30pm on Saturday.

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