Wednesday, December 11, 2013


"Movement always relates to a change, migration to a seasonal variation"
The Movement-Image by Gilles Deleuze

The meaning of transformation is to be found in transformation itself. Action defines movement, transition brings development, and in so doing, the mutable becomes a (non) category in its own right,  which doesn't need to be compared or opposed to what mutable is not.
The perpetual doesn’t represent (anymore) a category of thinking, and as for a paradox it’s change that becomes endless and constantly produces movement and action. The reason of this lies in what we can call a structural impossibility; no immutable thing can be thought by our brain, which is rather engaged in unravelling concepts and images in progress. 

Here I want to describe an artist who places movement at the heart of her practice; transformation does appear the conditio sine qua non her way of looking at the world, the central focus around which she has been weaving visual narratives. The phrase way of looking does not come as a coincidence when talking about Nikki Lam; I would argue in fact that her art can be defined as a semantics of gazing.

Two-minute affairs(s), video installation by Nikki Lam, 2011-Present

Lam is an artist based in Melbourne; just graduated from the University of Melbourne, she has been successfully distinguishing herself amongst Australia-based young artists. Lam has been extensively exhibiting in Australia for the last years, and from March 2014 her work will be visible in occasion of SafARI, which is one of Sydney Biennale unofficial collateral events.

Gaze, transformation, and movement together introduce the art of Nikki Lam; let’s expand these words and the concepts underneath them to describe a practice that doesn’t contemplate stability, nor immovable positions or fixed places.

Art is all about gazing. Although artistic practices observe reality from heterogeneous angles and are seen by beholders through different perspectives, to some extents they all dialogically question the supremacy of sight above other senses.

Nikki Lam dwells in and eventually develops the idea of gazing; she challenges the way we ordinarily look at things and, above all, at ourselves, by addressing questions of identity. Her video installations are thought-provoking instruments, which aim to make us focus on our self-perception.
You are the reason I am who I am, video installation by Nikki Lam,  2008

Lam is interested in finding a visual and never still definition of our identity. Her art seems to suggest that a sort of social agreement allows and frames individual awareness; I am you as you are me, in a mutual dependency, you see me as I see you.
Despite such a mutuality of vision, which can be argued as either utopian or dystopian, Lam’s art states clearly the impossibility of looking at things from the same level. It points out that there is a hiatus between what we see and what somebody else sees when looking us, an open wound between how we perceive ourselves and how we actually are.

To reach such an individual awareness Lam uses a language tangibly close to our everyday experience; hers are existentialist words used to overcome a loss, to make up with one’s self after a failed expectation. They all tell us about a departure from the origin. Lam films scenes that, instead of making us mourn our lack of total control, rather encourage us to welcome a humanity of intriguing imperfection.
Often Liam’s videos stage transforming sets; subject, background, aesthetical repertoire all concur to state the inevitable movement, the tireless act of moving, flowing from a place to another, as living a life out of a suitcase.

In so doing, the artist questions the idea of belonging and possession too; in such a continuous personal, natural, social and cognitive transformation, would it be possible to own anything, to belong somewhere precise?
Movement forces us to dwell in a liminal territory that Lam doesn’t want to define; she rather prefers beholders to interpret it through their personal lenses. It’s a place waiting to be described.
Unexpectedly viewers are all but unsettled by such a void of answer; they feel at ease, peaceful, and safe, as Lam’s visual expedients are comforting words of aesthetical precision, and professional care. They are therapeutic remedies supplied by a skilled artist.
Longing, Be-Longing Series, video installation by NIkki Lam, 2010-2012

Lam’s artistic expression is in fact already an answer; it is immanent, intelligible, and self-evident. Her practice is clean, untangled, courteous. It is neither baroque nor aggressive, but rather patient, discrete, and mannerist in its etymological sense, which recalls the art of doing something with manner, in an elegant way. The viewer feels comforted, as Lam’s art is itself a hospital place to indulge in.

Often the artist shows us a natural or urban landscape seen by the unexploited eyes of a non-native viewer; as a sui generis local, she curiously approaches details with heuristic naivety. Colour-wise she has a quite integrated modus operandi; any filmed material explores the connection between various nuances, expanding the viewers’ attention to the overall picture. There is no opposition; no dramatic dichotomy or contrast characterizes her work, which rather reminds us of interaction and contamination.

Lam doesn’t have a fixed repertoire, and her colours change as they are mutable expressions of ourselves. Transformation wholly embraces her art and romanticizes a life that is peripatetic, inquisitive and never self-sufficient. A life willing to mirror itself into somebody else’s experience. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Notes on Rudolf Stingel at Palazzo Grassi

‘Everyone is an artist’.
That’s how it sounded Joseph Beuys’s iconic statement, which implied a democratic vision of art. Since anything can be art as long as it’s approached with imaginativeness, for Beuys we can be creative also at the grocery shop. A similar belief had certainly driven also Rudolf Stingel, when in 1989 he published his ‘Instructions’ book, a do-it-yourself manual with which the Merano-born painter wanted to suggest everybody can make abstract art.
In so doing, Stingel has entered in media res the heart of art criticism and has done it by siding with supporters of the idea that art can be taught. There is in fact a thorny and vivid debate between who believes in the possibility of teaching art, and who rather empathizes with a Platonic-like idea for which art is just a gift for elected people with talent.
To complicate things Stingel refers to abstract art.
Rudolf Stingel, Untitled 2012

The Italian painter who lives his life in between Merano and New York, is having a solo show at Palazzo Grassi that will be on until December 31 2013; for this occasion the artist entirely covered the building’s space, from floors to walls, from stairs to corridors, intervening on more than 5,000 square metres.
The first floor shows only monochromes, while on the second floor Stingel exposes figurative paintings; the curatorial choice cannot pass unnoticed as the hiatus between the two floors is made even more abyssal and hyperbolic by the painting technique itself.
On the one hand, Stingel’s monochromes intensify the concept of abstract art by adopting its purest form; these paintings refuse in fact any kind of form, not even rare and sporadic lines delimiting the space can classify the artwork. The painter rather prefers to let the colour just explode and flood out of the canvas. On the other hand, for the second floor, Stingel gives proof of a meticulous and precise figurative approach by painting portraits from photographs. While on the first floor the painter denies any sort of subject by focusing only on nuances of grey and silver and how they are spread on the canvas, on the second floor he engages with the reconstruction of the subject by painting even the most imperceptible detail.
And it’s how Stingel curates the detail what doubtlessly captures the viewer’s attention. By simply looking at the paintings’ titles, the viewer can notice how the recurring ‘Untitled’ is better specified by another word, which functions as an index of sense placed in between brackets, for example, Untitled (Franz West), Untitled (St. Elizabeth), Untitled (St. John the Baptist) and so on. In so doing, the artist suggests us to keep looking for details, which eventually can solve the puzzle.

Also when flowing into the so-called abstract art, Stingel’s practice doesn’t correspond to the idea of some critics who sees abstract art as a door to the soul, guiding the viewer through a spiritual journey. If there is a specific perspective from which observing Stingel’s work, it’s not mystical, but actually extremely material. The viewer values and judges what is in front of his eyes, or in other words, the materiality of the painting. Stingel’s works remain stuck in the memory of the observer as they are made of elegant and polished details giving form to a hedonist and sometime decadent art. 
The final effect is obtained through a particular method of painting; Stingel usually places a gauze on the canvas in between the first and the second paint’s application. He then takes it off, and impresses that typical rich texture.
Stingel seems that kind of artist who searches for the beautiful things that make life worth living; he looks like the sort of person carefully focused on the details of what is usually taken for granted. He looks like the sort of person who can be surprised by everyday epiphanies.
Rudolf Stingel at Palazzo Grassi
Nevertheless, the apotheosis of beauty corresponds to the apotheosis of what is ugly and anonymous; the last part of the exhibition is in fact dedicated to paintings which depict sculptures found in a small church near the painter’s home town. Stingel portrays faces of little kids, women in a suffering Virgin-like pose, and men who, as in an escalation of terror and apocalyptical atmosphere, become deadly motionless exactly like the human skeleton that he paints on a lion. The latter, although it’s on a run, is completely static and lifeless.

This is the first time Palazzo Grassi devotes all its space to just one artist; Stingel intervenes with his idiosyncratic, unforgettable and yet controversial trademark. The Italian painter has covered all the building with an oriental patterned carpet and in so doing brought to extreme consequences the act of intervention within a ‘public space’. He fully personalized the entire place, changing it from Palazzo Grassi to Rudolf Stingel’s palace. While such will can be seen as a desire to give continuity to the overall exhibiting place, or, in other words, a strong intention to give birth to an artist-centred territory, it also ends up denying the interaction between autonomous spaces and artists’ dialogical exercises. There is no space left to dialogue, even in the form of battle or inharmonious equilibrium between the artist/curator and the elected place for his intervention. There is no room left to art challenging space and to space questioning art; everything is about the artist.
Rudolf Stingel, Untitled (Franz West) 2012
The previously mentioned distinction between the first and second floor of the exhibition allowed the viewer to observe firstly no-subject works and finally a subject-centred practice with figurative hyper-details. Now through the curatorial approach it’s all transformed towards an absolutism of the subject, personalized by the artist himself and his choices too. From a total lack to a sort of fundamentalism of the subject, the viewer might end up thinking how extremes positions can talk the same language.
Although the exhibition and how it has been curated raise few conceptual criticisms, Stingel successfully achieves an astonishing result with the painting dedicated to his friend and mentor Franz West. It’s a portrait obtained from a photograph depicting the Austrian painter who died last year. Stingel paints a big-sized canvas echoing what is also Gerhald Richter’s photo-painting practice; far away from some of the motionless works included within the exhibition, here Franz West is anything but a still life, he rather speaks through his blue eyes and hypnotizes the viewer who is captured by a magnetic allure.
The Vienna-born painter was famous for his irony, an irreverent behaviour against bourgeois symbols, and, last but not least, a desire to stimulate the viewer’s participation in his works.
Stingel skilfully re-constitutes the same circle of engagement, through which the observer can still feel to be part of a solid relation. In so doing, the viewer is reassured of his active role, previously darkened by the artist’s ego-centred choices.

Stingel just about confirms his reputation. Grandiosity, splendor, and prestige illuminate beauty and its contrary, summing up what gives balance to life: Eros and Thanatos. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

ALWAYS THE SUN. Carlo Zinelli at la Biennale di Venezia

It’s ten o’clock in the morning and Venice is already very hot: the sun is so strong it seems ubiquitous and the walk to Giardini is a chaotic explosion of human beings. The street is crowded; families, couples and groups of friends are all living their personal escapism. They are in Venice, a city that, despite different judgements of taste, is not like anything else in the world.

Il Palazzo of Everything, a collateral event of this year’s Venice Biennale, is just outside Giardini’s entrance; at this time of the day it’s an oasis of shades, what comes out to be a pleasant refreshment for the body, the eye, and, why not, the soul.
The place hosts an outdoor exhibition dedicated to Carlo Zinelli, and represents the new itinerant project of The Museum of Everything, the London-based creation of thinker, former filmmaker and producer James Brett.
The show’s title, Carlo Zinelli, epitomes the entire exhibition which might be defined as a concept show where all contributes to highlight the same idea. Everything presented is about Carlo Zinelli, the person, the human being, and the individual before the artist, in the visible belief that what constitutes art is neither a degree, a bombastic career, or wearing tours de force jumping around openings, but rather the uncompromising desire of doing. It’s all a matter of shaping obsessions, representing memories, liberating colours, in other words, filling up a space called life.
Carlo Zinelli's portrait
Carlo Zinelli was an Italian artist who unfailingly devoted himself to this kind of practice; Il Palazzo di Everything shows nearly 100 of his drawings and places them in the garden under red and white domes, as to remind us that art is never too far from nature.
Zinelli orchestrates a dancing chaos; he seems to fight the horror vacui of the composition by filling up all spaces at his disposal. Human beings and animals are exposed as through their negatives, as what the viewer can actually see is the profile of their body and not distinctive attributes. The artist seems interested less in the outside, and rather in the inside by drawing white circular holes within the space of the body. In few drawings they might have represented organs, as they are usually located at the same high of the eyes or the stomach for example.
Carlo Zinelli’s art is an explosion of presences; everything in his drawings recalls the urgency of experience and the necessity of belonging. Sometimes people are depicted in couples; he describes them by showing their profile as in Egyptian steles, where one single man after the other beats a long procession of people.
Untitled, 1966
Linguistic rumours and pictures inhabit the same space; art and words are combined as to disclose the inadequacy of one without the others. The written signs can be futuristic-like onomatopoeias, nicknames, or Zinelli’s signature. There is something about all of us in this writing obsession, something about reaffirming our persona after a battle with an extraneous reality.

Despite the numerous apparent dualisms mentioned above, as, for instance, inside and outside, men and animals, images and words, and even the show-making itself where red and white monopolize the space, no single element serves as a diving factor, but rather organically helps with the overall composition. In so doing, Il Palazzo di Everything instils a sense of harmonic disequilibrium. Drawings embody heterogeneous impetuses that, far from being disquieting, rather open a door towards notable experiences in Zinelli’s life, and suggest destiny as an alternation of positive and negative, of course frustrating, but after all inevitable.
Zinelli didn’t have a quiet life; he went to Spain to fight the civil war and once back in Italy his behaviours weren’t the same anymore. He lived the rest of his existence internalized in a psychiatrist hospital where he received uncountable electro shocks.

Although life and art are two separated territories, they mutually affect each other by announcing the expression of the inexpressible, what we can call the unfathomable silence of very personal experiences. For this reason it’s dangerously misleading to consider Zinelli’s restless art a symbol of mental health issues or psychiatrist therapies; here, the art of interpretation must be left to sophists. What is at our disposal is rather a conspicuous body of works that are not a symbol, but a creative anticipation of what is too much: too many repetitions, too many obsessions, too many details filling the space, too many needs to be expressed.  
Untitled, 1967

This is why Zinelli was an artist.

That’s arguable, but art is not science; while geometry rationalizes the universe through calculations and precise relations, art lives in the territory of excesses, in the scarp between the world’s rotundity and a square’s precision. Zinelli’s art and life reproduce this irrational impetus that cannot be measured; the viewer, while learning about his life and observing his drawings, feels the inadequacy of any symbol or interpretation. Questions remain open as they lie in the freedom of excesses. This is Il palazzo di Everything’s exhibition too: a show whose idiosyncrasy lives in the non-category of uncertainty, and in the indescribable moment of vertigo.

The sun is hot in Venice; perhaps it’s not too dissimilar to the sun that used to warm up Van Gogh’s days in Provence. Many medical terms have been used to explain the burning nuances of yellow adopted by the Dutch painter; despite all psychiatrist interpretations, perhaps what pushed Van Gogh to use those gradations might have been just the sun. 

Photography courtesy:,,

Saturday, May 25, 2013


The artistic path of the Italian sculptor Ivo Gensini, despite being prolific, is a path at margins, whose outcomes have always been shown without ostentation or pomposity. Gensini is not an omnivorous impulsive, but rather a reflective person who dwells in breaks. His pauses, instead of fragmenting the work’s essentiality, have contributed to consolidate what appears as a mission, linked to talent and patience: Gensini models a responsible matter.
If responsibility is the ability to give answers, Gensini’s matter not only fully satisfies the semantic value of such a word, but also corresponds to its existential mission: to give responses about the being. Being a sculptor. Being a man.
Gensini adds to his aesthetics the humble sincerity of a man who appreciates and admires other people’s work before his own practice, with no dissimulation or simulation, and continues to personalize his being-in-the-world without cravings of omnipotence.
As Brancusi, one of Gensini’s mentors, once said: ‘Nothing grows under big trees’. Also the Italian sculptor is aware of the excessive persuasion of any influence, which, as in the biggest loves, risks not just to blind, but also to affect the artistic and living style of the devotee. Having teachers is both the open possibility to imagine worlds and create works, and the personal drama of those who must choose the right moment to separate from the already marked path.
Ivo Gensini with the Italian art critic Vittorio Sgarbi
The art of the Italian sculptor, perhaps for this awareness of position, has also a historiographical meaning, this time in terms of detachment; Gensini’s work is a shelf, a consolation against postmodern relativism, an alternative that doesn’t need to revolt in order to exist.
The postmodern has jeered at the epistemic characteristic of art and instead promoted the absolutism of appearance, game, and irreverence. In so doing, the postmodern ended up being a synonym for a headless individualism, which, instead of hunting for a system, has imploded on itself and become nearly an auto-parody.
Nothing in Gensini’s work is postmodern; if the latter is often unable to speak to the public as it’s the expression of something difficult to decode, Gensini’s sculpture is direct and sharable. It’s the expression of noble aesthetics and technical excellence within the history of art. It’s the metaphor of a man who communicates his loves, joys, anxieties and fears without any mask.
Gensini’s art combines the attempt to speak with technical and handcrafted beauty, and the analysis of the self, which is not a solipsistic mannerism, but a plural dispositive of sense.
Composizione by Gensini, 1996
The Italian sculptor often creates works in which he assembles various components; wood, lean and copper interact with each other. They take part in the equilibrium where the instability of recycled, worn, old and precarious wood is corrected by the physical confidence of lead. Bacon, Burri, Van Gogh, Fontana live within Gensini’s sculpture, which, despite historiographical references, expresses an uncontested originality: presence and absence share the same place or, to use other words, being and nothingness, full and empty, inhabit the same space.
The rational complexity of such a dissonant aesthetic and epistemological union makes, once again, Gensini’s sculpture a real artistic language; his art invites to think the unusual, by demolishing the daily logic inertia and re-valuing honest thoughts.
In so doing, we find out that lead has a certain sweetness, if opened by a subtle and soft as velvet cut; it’s the openness to desire, to the seducing vitality of an existence that is never taken for granted.
Gensini often models lead in this way, by cutting its surface and introducing little splits of space, of sense, of life, of forgiving, where the pleasure for surprises gives an unpredictable speed to the sculpture.
Il Pensiero (The Thought) by Gensini, 2000
His practice lives thanks to a double drive: centripetal and centrifuge.
Works can develop as suspended; Gensini starts to cast a little detail and then adds every single element according to the first, in order to create a dialogue between the new and what already exists on the artistic surface. At the same time, works can develop from what it will later be the peripheral, what will constitute the sculpture’s spatial perimeter.
This doesn’t mean playing with chance, or acting every time driven by the impression of contingency. In Gensini there is an order that is neither moral rigor nor censure of excesses, but rather a calm in terms of composition. At stake here there is a man who, instead of fighting against his matter, rather supports its possibilities. It’s his responsibility, both aesthetic and existential.

Sartre wrote in his essay on Flaubert:
‘What is philosophy useful for if it’s not capable to comprehend men?’ Cognitive theories and metaphysics of morals don’t mean anything if they cannot provide men with understanding tools in order to reflect on beliefs and actions.
Echoing existentialism, Gensini’s question seems to be: ‘What is art useful for, if it’s not capable to comprehend men?
The answer has to be searched within the complementary part of the being, perhaps a dramatic and disquieting dimension, which exceeds the rational understanding, but has been familiarizing with emotions since ancient times. Art, if it cannot comprehend men, is useless. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

The art of collecting MUSIC and MEMORIES. DAVE MULLER portrays absences at THE APPROACH Gallery

‘From early childhood on, music defined my life. It was the core to my experience, the way I communicated, thought, worked out my troubles, shared my happiness. I heard it in my head, a twenty-four-hour radio station that played even in my sleep’.
Brian Wilson

The Approach Gallery just hosted Death Disco, an intriguing and engaging exhibition by the American artist Dave Muller who could easily agree with and pronounce himself these Brian Wilson’s words.
The show explores the fascinating territory where visual art and musical culture meet, giving birth to an eclectic and idiosyncratic language. Intimate and nostalgic, Death Disco is a collection of memories articulated in musical tunes and references.
Death Disco at The Approach Gallery (image courtesy:

Dave Muller paints large-scale works, expressions of his tastes and intense passions, and yet organized creations where the vehemence of his enthusiastic attitude never prevails over the composition’s equilibrium.
The exhibition’s title plays with the rhythmical combination between ‘death’ and ‘disco’, linking together two of the show’s red threads: loss and music. The artist confesses himself; he is in love with music and shows the viewer how to cope with an overflowing emotional power, trying to balance positive and negative charges.
He gives homage to musicians who died more or less recently, by meticulously painting their albums’ spines disposed one next to the other, as in an imaginary bookshelf, or painting drums without drummers, inevitably evoking Van Gogh’s Chair.
As the Dutch master, Muller makes an attempt to cope with the absence of the beloved ones; on the one hand, Van Gogh painted Gauguin’s non-presence by portraying the chair where his friend used to sit, on the other one, the American painter retraces myths that emblematically represent periods in his life, and frames them in order not to let them fade away.
She is not there by Dave Muller

From a theoretical point of view, Dave Muller’s practice recognizes absence and presence as complementary categories, and questions a phenomenological hermeneutics by overlapping personal memories, factual absences and voids of human presences. If interpretation must concentrate on phenomena in terms of what actually appears in front of one’s eyes, this doesn’t seem to be applicable to Muller’s work, which is constituted by more than appearances, and overlaps solid framed figures and rather ephemeral perimeters.
The artist is keen in defining his paintings as portraits, although they might not correspond to the canonical idea of mimetic reconstructions. They, in fact, can result deceptive, because they don’t mirror a presence, but fallaciously convey only a part of it, indefinitely fragment the original image, or frame a vacuum figure, only a profile that metonymically stands for the real person.
Muller orchestrates his colours with exactitude; each tone he uses in the painting is also reported in the lower right corner, where he usually reproduces a scale of the chosen nuances.
In so doing, all is in the painting is also catalogued in another place, as if the artist would like to combine the synthetic mind that blurs together forms and colours in the artwork, and the analytic approach necessary to keep records. ‘I like things that don’t have much mystery but are still interesting’, Muller admits.
The artist, as a collector, tries to manage his memories between order and disorder; the past can be chaotic and confusing, and the artist’s aim is to find an antidote to its anarchic ataxia. Muller’s archive comes then as a container of entropic vectors, sketches of life remembered through records that function as sentimental objects; the artist committed himself in the progressing filling of his musical archive, a titanic aim considering his gigantic love and devotion.
Death Disco is a confidential show that warmly brings the viewer to familiarize with Muller’s practice, both as a visual artist and a music fan.
The exhibition, by being an intimate confession of the artist’s tastes and passion, challenges and questions the space of the gallery itself; the latter ends up symbolizing a liminal place between the private universe of music enjoyed in solitary occasions, and the public locus where a message has just been conveyed.
Death Disco at The Approach Gallery (image courtesy:

The show acts as a thought-provoking device; through it, the viewer can reflect on the relationship between objects and their values, music records and their emotional implications, between absence and what rests after a loss. Interesting enough, sometimes objects, disposable, easy to damage, possibly small, and therefore inclined to be lost, possess instead a long life, strong enough to harmonize past, present and future. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Forlì reflects on Mussolini’s years; NO REVISIONISM, but a titanic historic-artistic RE-ENACTMENT

This year the San Domenico Museum proposes a colossal event; nearly 500 hundred artworks constitute ‘Novecento. Arte e Vita in Italia tra le Due Guerre’ (Nine Hundred. Art and Life in Italy between the Two Wars). This is a show that enlarges the classic exhibition’s boundaries in terms of historiographic, formal and thematic depth, to start with its container-place; San Domenico has adapted its distinctive architectural aesthetic to diverse art shows during the years, and this time will be a source of events, video-projections, and laboratory of ideas.
The current manifestation, as the subheading clarifies, tells us about Italy in between the two wars, a complex historical period made by titanic glorifications of the regime, harsh dissents, often limited in their formal freedom and therefore forced on an subliminal level, and by the satire, which with its cathartic charge of sublimation was allowed to call the Duce ‘crapa pelata’ (bald head).

Artworks by Sironi, Funi, Martini, Spreafico interact within the rooms, confirming the eclectic and dialogic nature of an exhibition that wants to be a manifesto for the so-called ‘applied art’. Here, in fact, painting, sculpture, architecture, design and big advertising prints occupy the same place, illustrating not only the refuse for a pure art, that will be theorised by Greenberg in the Forties, but also denounce the prolific unity between art and technique.
The curator Fernando Mazzocca specifies that here at stake it’s an exhibition about art, particularly attentive to the life of that time; ‘Novecento’ evolves through visible internal processes, solid helpful steps for the visitor who is guided through the cult of the man, the glorification of the personality, and the tedium vitae that becomes historic pessimism at the end of the second world war, mostly amongst artists who always sustained Mussolini and fascism.
The bourgeois is not the only subject depicted during that time; artists represent also common men, farmers and women busy in raising their kids. In their artworks Cagnaccio di San Pietro and Carrà portray labour’s fatigues as well as those of maternity, suggesting the idea of a wider humanity than the one described within a room’s walls, where a dame contemplates herself in the mirror.

Next to the body’s glorification, for which feminine and male physics are sculptured with precision and sensuality, ‘Novecento’ highlights a passion for objects, in their perfect composition and sentimental meaning. In L’Attesa (The Waiting) by Cagnaccio di San Pietro a couple of parents waits at the port for the return of their son; the pipe smoked by the man and the tissue in the mother’s pocket have their own life, they are elements of perfect optic output.
Also in Lacrime della Cipolla (Onion’s Tears), the same artist represents a couple very similar to the previous one; the woman pills onions with a tissue in her pocket, while the man looks at her smoking his pipe.

Beside the (hyper) realistic intention of a painter who depicts what he sees, the object, far from being a mere ornament, has got an emotional and sentimental importance, and, as in Pirandello’s poetic, ‘people can like it for its self, for the variety of pleasant sensations which it involves, but, more often, the pleasure of an object is not found in the object itself. The fantasy embellishes it, irradiating it with beloved images. In the object, we love what we put of ourselves’.
San Domenico’s exhibition will be open until the 16th of June 2013, which is, after all, the necessary time to go there, go back, and return again, in order to familiarize with a sometimes complex show, both due to its didactic aim, and its will of documenting the profound unity between a protean formal expression and precarious historic equilibriums. 

The article's Italian version is published by
In Tram by Virgilio Guidi

Friday, January 25, 2013

‘Ending is better than mending’. Few quick notes on Brave New World

Have you ever heard about a dystopian-like book describing a community in the far future where uniform inhabitants behave in a clinical and unthinking way?
Yes, you would probably say, with in mind George Orwell’s masterpiece 1984. Sure, I would reply, but this is not the book I’m talking about. 
Seventeen years before Big Brother and The Ministry of Love got printed, another untouchable but far less celebrated bastion of the English literature crystallized a very similar unsettling world.
This is Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, George Orwell’s direct premise, if not the dominant source of his inspiration.
A futuristic London is the setting for this astonishing, breathless, pioneering book; people travel around with helicopters, don’t have a stable partner because ‘everyone belongs to everyone else’, take a daily dose of soma, the institutionalized drug, and don’t know what a mother or a father are, since women don’t get pregnant anymore, and babies grown in bottles.
The life of the community proceeds quite and peaceful until two member of Brave New World go and visit a Savage-Reservation where people live quite differently. They are uncivilized and don’t have basic hygienic norms; they know what a family is and condemn promiscuous sexual behaviours.
Lenina and Bernard Marx bring back to London two savages with them and in so doing, more or less consciously, compromise their society’s foundation and its normative statute.
Huxley’s prose is unique; as a simple but incisive architecture, every paragraph is an organic whole where phrases are accurately chosen in order to deliver a disquieting message of anxiety or ‘controlled hallucination’ to use Huxley’s lexicon.
The English author amazingly tailors words to describe characters, landscapes and events; by giving birth to his novel, he wrote a book that is also an essay on the language itself: words with their nearly tactile existence are, in fact, the only doors for a theoretical comprehension. The linguistic expression allows us to think about something; without it, we couldn’t even image the subject of our feelings and reasoning.
‘Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindles, villain. What did the words exactly mean? He only half knew. But their magic was strong and went on rambling in his head, and somehow it was as though he had never really hated Popé before; never really hated him because he had never been able to say how much he hated him. But now he had these words, these words like drums and singing and magic’.
Brave New Word is a superb incisive book, if only due to the empathy the reader can easily feel for the characters. They are real, three-dimensional masks that stand for our own persona; fallible, naïve and sometimes coward people who, after all, don’t dislike having somebody else who make the rules and think for them.
Having paid homage to Huxley’s masterpiece, what is left for us to disagree with it’s the way he depicts women; Lenina, for example, is annoyingly naïve, a character without any sort of imagination. She is miserably restrained in her mental shallowness with no chance of evolution.
However, the writer’s attitude towards a character like her perfectly closes the circle of his dystopian vision; with his incomparable imagination he offered us a great memento mori and a vademecum to use our mind instead.
With sarcasm, witticism and an enviable ability to project itself towards unknown scenarios, Huxley’s book opens the path for a meditation on current societies and individual cravings as well as necessities.