Giovannini used forced perspective techniques to create what he called “impossible spaces” to create optical illusions or “spatial paintings” in this loft in Los Angeles.Art work event On the left wall is Jeff Colson, owned by tenant Alison Miller.
Photo: Ryan Baden
I may have been conceived in this building,” says architect, critic and author Joseph Giovannini This three-story Los Angeles building circa 1890 has been owned by his family since the 1930s. At various times, it was used as a radio station, a wedding banquet hall and a movie theater run by film celebrity Leo Carrillo.
The Giovanninis lived there for a while, but “moved out and moved to Arcadia in 1949 when I was a toddler,” he said. In the 1970s, his brother wanted to open a disco in it, but the plan didn’t work out. “It’s basically a Soho loft in Los Angeles.”
Today, there are many artists and photographers who rent apartments here. But Giovannini kept part of the second floor for himself, turning it into a residence in the Op Art project, which he also rents out today. The 2,250-square-foot space has 16-foot ceilings. The only window is in the bedroom, but the attic is illuminated by three large skylights. When architect Frank Gehry visited a few years ago, before Giovannini painted it the way it is now, he said, “I feel like I’m going to infinity.”
“In the ’90s, I built the forms you see,” Giovannini said of the dramatic but unattractive seating assemblies in the main gallery, “because at the time I was writing my book on deconstruction, I Interested in hallucinatory space, the fourth dimension – so I used forced perspective, axonometric drawings to build the tables.”
A year and a half ago, he added pictorial illusions to the architectural work – using a technique dating back to the Renaissance called quaratula – creating a space he describes as “very unreal”. Realism is not my deal. I’m not interested in showing the bolts and showing the connections, and not at all interested in showing the mechanics. It’s all about mental space, what you might call impossible space. “
He continued: “The basic idea of my painting is that I’m not painting walls like murals or landscapes – I’m painting spaces. The idea is that these forms are so ambiguous that they kind of float off the walls.”
his tenant is Alison Miller, she has her own movie location service, representing assets in the TV and film industries. Moving in from another windowless loft a year and a half ago prepared her for the more extreme (some) circumstances here. “I’m really starting to like the high ceilings and skylights,” she said. “Honestly, as a single woman living in the middle of a city, one of the things I really didn’t know until I tried it was the security of not having all these doors and windows. It’s kind of like a womb.” This is also her collection The right environment for art.
“Owning the building gave me a lot of license,” said Giovannini. “No one told me no.” But it’s still real estate. “I’m really lucky to have a tenant who appreciates that; it takes some type of person to live here. I can; my wife can’t.”