Ab ovo / On Patterns: in conversation with Adelaid...

Ab ovo / On Patterns: in conversation with Adelaide Cioni

For her first solo show in the UK, Italian artist Adelaide Cioni (b. 1976) presents Ab ovo / On Patterns. The exhibition is the culmination of the artist’s ongoing exploration of decorative patterns and is her most ambitious project to date, investigating visual language across mediums in a large-scale format. Presented at Mimosa House, the exhibition is supported by the Italian Council, Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity, Italian Ministry of Culture. Adelaide Cioni is represented by the P420 gallery in Bologna.

Portrait of Adelaide Cioni, photo credit: Stephanie Black, courtesy the artist and P420

Francesco Liggieri: If you had to present yourself to someone who doesn’t know you with a work of art, which would you choose and why?
Adelaide Cioni: Impossible to answer. Anything I said would be dramatically reductive. I think my way of looking at and thinking about things has many facets that are expressed in different work series. I am thinking of Go Easy on Me, To Be Naked, Totem for Greta, Ab Ovo, Drawings for Myself, Immagini secondarie. But really wanting to force myself to identify one, I choose one that I have never shown, and it is the Esercizi di traduzione series. There is an important part of my relationship with figuration, with the outside world, with color, with drawing.

Adelaide Cioni, The black holes (n.2), 2019, wool stitched on canvas, 86 x 104 cm, Bologna, photo credit: Carlo Favero, courtesy the artist and P420

How is the painting? How do you see it?
It seems to me that from the point of view of the market it is in excellent health, it is the great trend of the moment. Everyone or almost everyone paints, which is perfectly fine. I’m always curious to look at other people’s paintings, it always gives me something, even when I don’t like it. See what the other has done, understand where he/she is strong and where he/she falls, it’s like watching an experiment in progress on something that interests me a lot. But when it’s me in front of the canvas painting, the others disappear, it’s absolute solitude. It takes a lot of force or carelessness. The best phrase I’ve ever heard about painting was said to me (and repeated) by Don Suggs, a beloved professor from Los Angeles, who sadly no longer exists: «You’ve got to paint to paint». You have to do the painting, until you do it you don’t know what it is, it remains a thought, and a thought is something else.

Adelaide Cioni, Six or seven (is the number of times Mary speaks in the New Testament), 2019, environmental installation, acrylics on fabric, wood, ink on paper and cardboard. Installation view at Madonna del Pozzo, Spoleto, courtesy the artist and P420

How did you arrive to this residency inside Mimosa House for the Italian Council in London?
It is not a residence but a personal exhibition. Together with the curator Ilaria Puri Purini we participated in key action 2 of the Italian Council call, the one for a personal exhibition in a foreign institution. It was Ilaria who proposed the project to Mimosa House and they accepted.

Adelaide Cioni, Drawings for myself. Red triangles, 2020, acrylics and pencil on canvas
35 x 32 cm, courtesy the artist and P420

As an artist what do you think your duty towards society is?
I wouldn’t call it duty, I would say function. I think an artist is a person who is constantly in touch with his/her own vulnerability and who never stops questioning the world and our way of being human in the world. And these are things you can only do up to a certain point, if you are in any other trade. It takes a remarkable willingness to be alone, it takes time, and above all it takes courage. To sum up I would say that an artist is a person who also has courage for others.

David Hockney often recalls in his interviews that painting will never die, what do you think?
I agree with him.


Adelaide Cioni. Ab ovo / On Patterns
9/03/2023 – 25/04/ 2023
Mimosa House
47 Theobalds Rd, London, WC1X 8SP


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