Title: Dunce hat
Technique: pastel and acrylic on canvas
Size: 70x56 cm
Year of composition: 2020
An exploration of identity and duality abounds in the work of Italian artist Luigi Carriero. In Dunce Hat, the artist draws inspiration from Francisco de Goya’s The Inquisition Tribunal in which individuals accused of heresy are forced to wear a tall, pointed coroza, popularly known as a dunce hat, and stand in front of a tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition. In Carriero’s contemporary work, the accused becomes a shadowy female figure donning the same style of hat. Whilst the contextual cultural, societal, and political norms have shifted from the early nineteenth century to the present day, the dunce hat remains synonymous with shame, exclusion, and otherness.
Juxtaposed against a sea of black and the ephemeral white of the female’s face, the lucid green dunce hat holds the viewer’s gaze and takes on the competing role of accessory and label, becoming both a way of adorning, and branding, the nameless figure. This duality extends to the viewer, simultaneously an observer and an inquisitor, intruding on the personal world of the woman - eyes closed and pensive - making the private public, and forcing us to confront our own notions of judgement, guilt, and perception.
Artist: Luigi Carriero