Athena Papadopoulos. Cain and Abel Can’t and Able

What if Cain was a man like everyone else, with the same feelings, the same fragility and the same strengths and weaknesses? Doubt is legitimate while visiting Athena Papadopoulos’ new exhibition, Cain and Abel Can’t and Able, curated by Alfredo Cramerotti, which inaugurated the new MOSTYN (Llandudno, Wales) exhibition season on 14 March 2020. No character has been more than Cain shunned by all literatures, perhaps because the universality of the first murderer has caused over time the inability of considering the ancient biblical reality in new ways. Exceptions were Byron, Victor Hugo, Saramago.

And now it’s up to Athena Papadopoulos (1988, Toronto, CA), always able to sagaciously stratify her physically and semantically exhibitionist artworks. Inspired by the artist’s recent book of the same name, installed on a lectern at the entrance and then spread across its pages throughout the gallery, this exhibition brings the dichotomous law that dominates the world, that of good and evil, to the surface. which continue to intertwine and which every time man tries to separate generates a tragedy. The autobiographical reference, which never fails in the practice of Papadopoulos, are the experiences of rivalry and competition between brothers and sisters. On these, and drawing on the biblical story of Cain and Abel, everything is played.

A sound work pervades the space: there are five dialogues (Cain and Abel, Subterranean bleacher bash, Locking Necks, Sister Retsis and Artist he, artist shh shh shh she) with two always distinct voices (respectively Can’t and Able, Basement and Staircase, Turkey-necked Giraffe and Humpbacked Pig, Mother and Daughter and He and She) which stage five different meanings of rivalry (biblical, architectural, zoological, family and sexual). By succeeding very well in achieving a perfect synthesis of sound, sculpture and painting, Papadopoulos transfigures each of these imaginary narratives into two series of sculptural wall paintings – Cain Can’t and Able Abel – which challenge traditional representations.

They are hybrid forms, expertly excessive, made with nail polishes, synthetic hair and disfigured plush, combined, in their most improbable elements, with an acute sense of composition and taste. Solemn, they have their how and their why: they are seductive and repellent and they challenge us with a pompous air, giving themselves importance, they want to be looked at while they articulate a conscious tension between ferocity and fragility. With the right dose of lightness and seriousness, Papadopoulos bridges the bridge of time by transforming the environment into a ground suspended between physical and mental perception, similar to the state of half-sleep in which real elements, desires and imagination are mixed.

One has the impression that she, aware that men, by nature, aspire to know and want to look at things, impose the act of looking as a first form of knowledge to which one can go further. Without orchestrating the interpretation, but preferring to turn to the subjectivity of the beholder, let the phenomenon of wonder engage. Because yes, perhaps the act of seeing is not really natural, but certainly passion always intervenes in the nature of perception. That is to say, passion has nothing to do with judgment on reality but with the perception of reality itself: it comes before judgment, during perception.

And this new production, so visceral, so passionate, that celebrates life, is there to take us all within a journey into the abysses of the greatest, dark and complex meanings, through the experience of the other. Indeed, through and against the other. So let’s get the idea of ​​looking at Cain and Abel Can’t and Able taking a neutral position, free from any emotion, would be a pure abstraction. There is no non-passionate, Athena Papadopoulos is actually demonstrating it by moving within an emblematic series of warlike dichotomies. Is it not the universe itself that dominates it?


Athena Papadopoulos. Cain and Abel Can’t and Able
curated by Alfredo Cramerotti
MOSTYN, Llandudno, Wales

Extended until October 2020, pending new preventive provisions from the Government of Wales.

The exhibition is made possible thanks to the support of the Zabludowicz Collection and EMALIN gallery.

Athena Papadopoulos, Cain and Abel Can’t and Able. Installation view at MOSTYN, Wales UK, March 2020. Ph: Mark Blower

Athena Papadopoulos, Cain and Abel Can't and Able. Installation view at MOSTYN, Wales UK, March 2020. Photograph_ Mark BlowerAthena Papadopoulos, Cain and Abel Can’t and Able. Installation view at MOSTYN, Wales UK, March 2020. Ph: Mark Blower

Athena Papadopoulos, Able Abel, 2020. Cain and Abel Can’t and Able. Installation view at MOSTYN, Wales UK, March 2020. Ph: Mark BlowerAble Abel, 2020

Filippo Berta. One by one

Therefore, not missiles, but microbes. Bill Gates had predicted this, if something had to kill more than ten million people in the coming decades, it would likely have been a highly contagious virus rather than a war. And so it was. Covid-19 stopped all of us, sparing no one. Suddenly everything has become relevant and irrelevant at the same time, the social dimension has radically changed and man, the social animal par excellence, has had to obey a condition of isolation in order to save himself from an unprecedented health emergency. When we talk about borders, the mind rushes to barbed wires, sad emblems of a conflict, latent in that it is subjected to continuous control and self-control, in which perfection coexists on the outside and the abyss on the inside.

Filippo Berta’s artistic urgency has always focused on this gap between the external form of circumstances, marked by an order that governs and oversees everything, and what is actually their interiority. His project, One by One, promoted by the Nomas Foundation and chosen by the General Directorate for Contemporary Art and Architecture and Urban Peripheries (DGAAP) of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities as a winner of the fifth edition of the Italian Art Council, has set itself as a goal the impossible attempt to count all the thorns of the metal wires that still today create geopolitical and cultural divisions and polarizations in different nations in the world.

Last July, Berta and his crew traveled to Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia. A few months later they arrived in Greece and Macedonia, seeing that permits for Turkey were denied. Then it was the turn of Mexico and the United States. And just before the last trip, along the border between the two Koreas, everything stopped. Anyone, no longer excluded, has been barricaded inside a border. Not a real barbed wire, as many refugees are still suffering with a further wave of stigma and repression and exclusion and detention, but still an impassable, tangible and invisible at the same time border. Your home, your municipality, your region, your country. For example. As if our society had imposed on us a sense of deprivation that seems to be punishment, which comes from afar, and forces us to physical and emotional distances, to isolation, to imprisonment.

And it is precisely this sense of deprivation, which is absolutely new for us, that Berta highlights with his project, making visible the condition of those who have always been forced to live as if they had to expiate faults that they do not have, unfortunately, the victim of wishes and the inability of others. The restrictive and claustrophobic condition of these men, women, elderly and children, has become – albeit without the same tragic consequences – the condition of humanity in general, without any biographical, historical, social or geographical distinction being made.

The doubt arises that taking possession of such a modus vivendi may, perhaps, unfortunately, also have in it a certain form of self-destructive perversion, but what we are experiencing forces us to recognize that it is actually the only way we have to live together with a similar sadness, which seems to arise from real shortcomings and which feeds on itself. But if the apparent order of things tries to predict that such melancholy can over time become resignation and then elaboration of the void, hoping that it will persevere in the pleasure of going all the way, inside there are infinite and different mechanisms of re -action that rebels.

Berta is one who reacts. That’s why just when we seem so forced into the invisible real world, so integrated into the singular mystery of personal existence, he breaks down the concepts of time and space to transform them into a fertile ground in which the stories, emotions and experiences of all those who bloom they live near the borders marked by barbed wires. It can be anticipated that from the union of the individual counting of thorns by voice of the residents who become one at a time performers, a choral video installation will be born that will return the languages, cultures, landscapes and imagery of many peoples. While waiting for the project to be completed and then presented, the confinement that we have lived, emphasizes and updates its strength.

Yes, because the strength of One by One lies in its ability to systematically and lucidly bring to light the continuous unmasking of things until it reveals the immense vulnerability hidden by the obsessive manifestations of invulnerability. In fact, in the impossible attempt to count all the thorns, the non-authenticity of the order emerges, the awareness of a stolen time, the inadequacy of a system that educates, the hypocrisies of those provisions that induce a false self-control and the overwhelming of the other in community dynamics. Perhaps, simply, we should all quit the shoes of indistinguishable individuals who cross without meeting, because it is in the interstitial and apparently inessential spaces that life infiltrates.


Filippo Berta, Confine Ungheria_Serbia. Courtesy the artistFilippo Berta, Hungary-Serbia border. Courtesy the artist

Filippo Berta, Hungary-Serbia border. Courtesy the artist

Filippo Berta, United States-Mexico border. Courtesy the artist

Filippo Berta, Greece-Macedonia border. Courtesy the artist

Ruben Montini. The radical performance

Local relationship. Go beyond the limits. Take risks. Extended vulnerability. Exposure to chance. Primary reactions. These are some of the radical positions that Ruben Montini knows how to take when he performs. Represented by Prometeo Gallery Ida Pisani, the artist born in 1986, since the beginning has dedicated his body to art, tattooing himself on the left leg “FROCIO” to express his inner need to affirm his sexuality. He knows, during his performances, to conduct the action in the narrowest margin, but densely rich in possibilities, which opens up between the preordained, that is, the planning, and the contingent, or the concrete opportunity of execution.

Taking up the teaching of Hans George Gadamer, I say that the meaning is determined in its content by the occasion to which it must serve, so that there is more in this content than it would be independently of that occasion. Montini’s performances are not to be considered a “medium” at all, rather I would define them as presentations-actions that mark identity, control space-time and react to socio-emotional, formal, political, cultural and historical conditions.

In the group show All good things, celebrating 27 years of Interactive Arts BA at Manchester Metropolitan University, the ex-student Ruben Montini, exhibited Portrait of my mother as the most beautiful woman in the world, a 6’43” video, shot in 2019, which documents something that everyone, in a more or less similar way, has done trying to dress their parents’ clothes. A simple, intimate gesture that Montini brings to the eyes of the beholder while a professional make-up artist transforms his face to make it similar to that of his mother in the years in which she brought him into the world.

Taking on the role of his mother, as happens in the performance documented by the series exhibited at Alšova jihočeská Galerie in České Budějovice (CZ), on the occasion of which he tattooed on his lap “I WOULD LOVE YOU FOREVER”, the artist – with a Tribute full of love – questions the idea of ​​parenting with respect to a biological impossibility, as a gay male, and a political impossibility dictated by the restrictions that prevent the adoption of homosexual couples.

If it is true, as Bataille wrote, that human eyes cannot bear the sun, nor coitus, nor the corpse, nor the darkness, but with different reactions, it is equally true that Montini, with the visual language that distinguishes him, it returns that truth that is given in what exceeds the system. He is doingo so in an emotional flow that passes from him to us connecting us in a form of communication so intense that, supposing the negation of existing values ​​that limit the possible, the drives, the needs, autobiographical desires become indistinctly collective.

Parallel to performing, Montini creates Sardinian brocade tapestries that have all the value of real declarations of being in front of which we must not make the mistake of labeling an artist of his caliber simply as nostalgic or romantic (I would have woken up every single day aware of the fact that among all the billion of people living in this world no one would have been you and No also mental ni siquiera del corazón fino de la piel de los hues más aún una cosa de la sangre de los pulmones una cosa de la sangre y de los pulmones cue me have breathe y feel alive are the last two made in chronological order).

With all his actions and all his works he knows, in fact, to contribute decisively to the illumination of society. The Invisibles, in this regard, is an installation work composed of a series of embroidery on photographic prints, mounted on copper, which tells us the tragic chronicle of the journeys of migrants who seek to reach the European coasts in the Mediterranean. The artist, embroidering with the blue tones of the water and consequently covering the images of the people and boats that too often sink right in our waters, makes a sad absence present and gives voice to absolute human values, to universal pietas: a higher value than any legal regulation at any time, in any place.

But an even more coherent contribution to society, and today more than ever relevant in the face of the cautious closure of the borders of each European country, is the itinerant project This Anonymity Is Subversive, which consists of a journey through every single country of the European Union that the artist completes – inviting the public to collaborate in the execution using the medium of hand embroidery – with the aim of creating a colossal piece that can metaphorically express the beauty of a melting pot of different people who share common motifs and similar cultural backgrounds .

When it comes to Ruben Montini, therefore, it is clear how decisive it is that for every action the occasion is contained in the same intention of the work. It is therefore the work itself that, during its execution, happens. Montini gives us back his essence of being occasional so that only the occasion of execution gives voice to the work and highlights what is contained in it. This is why we define his real art, because it is immediate, we see its beautiful side, we trust him. And we don’t ask for anything else.


Ruben Montini, Ritratto di mia madre come la mamma piu_̀ bella del mondo, 2019. ph. Ela Bialkowska, OKNOstudioRuben Montini, Portrait of my mother as the most beautiful mom in the world, 2019. ph. Ela Bialkowska, OKNOstudio

Ruben Montini, Gli Invisibili, 2019. Veduta dell'instal_lazione. Ricamo su stampa fotografica su carta Hahnemühle,_ filati sintetici e di cotone, broccato sardo, seta, carta, _nastro adesivo, montato su legno e rame. ph.Ela Bialkowska, _OKNOstudioRuben Montini, Gli Invisibili, 2019. Installation view. Embroidery on photographic print on Hahnemühle paper, synthetic and cotton yarns, Sardinian brocade, silk, paper, adhesive tape, mounted on wood and copper. ph. Ela Bialkowska, OKNOstudio

Ruben Montini, Más Aún, 2020, 150×200 cm, Sardinian brocade on velvet, golden metallic threads, silk fringes. ph. Ela Bialkowska, OKNOstudio

For all the images: courtesy the artist & Prometeo Gallery Ida Pisani Milano/Lucca

Iva Lulashi. Vicino Altrove (Near Elsewhere)

Linked to the sensations I was feeling now (…) these impressions would have strengthened, would have taken on the consistency of a particular type of pleasure, and almost a framework of existence that I had, moreover, rarely had the opportunity to find, but in which the awakening of memories placed in the materially perceived reality a fairly large part of reality evoked, thought, elusive. As Marcel Proust in La Recherce has been able to represent environments and situations through a dynamic subjectivity that makes the external world a symbol of inner reality, so Iva Lulashi (Tirana, 1988), now, together with Regina José Galindo, protagonist in Prometeo Gallery Ida Pisani, knows how to bring together in her pictorial gesture – which is imitation and creative act at the same time – two opposite and complementary movements: on the one hand, she crystallizes the beauty of the external world; on the other, the perception of reality is influenced by pictorial visions.

Elsa Barbieri: The acceleration of history corresponds to a multiplication of unforeseen events and to a bombardment of imaginative hints that give us an instant view of what is happening all over the world, while the individualization of the references increasingly places individual in the position of considering himself independent, interpreting by himself and for himself the information he receives from the outside. How do the concepts of “near” and “elsewhere” refer to these aspects in your artistic research?
Iva Lulashi: Near and elsewhere in my research are stages. There is an initial closeness when I choose the images followed by another phase that coincides with the detachment from them. It is a preparatory stage for me, during which I am putting aside the original influence in order to be able to insert something of my own. However, there is always something that I cannot detach from, something that I preserve, take and insert into the work as part of my personal experience.

Elsa Barbieri: How and which images do you choose?
Iva Lulashi: I start from keywords, of which I lose the memory in the detachment phase and then spontaneously emerge. The choice is rather random, the spots and colors attract me. At the beginning they have their own narrative, I collect them in folders, I let them get lost over time, settle down, get confused, and then I recover them, I work them, I change a detail to transfer a completely new meaning to the image. The same happens for titles. In a notebook I note words, non-visual frames, which I read or find, always by chance. I take them back when it’s time to associate them with a work, letting pictorial and semantic research, guided by impressions, merge. Precisely these impressions lead me to choose images that are basically reactions. One of the first reactions was nostalgia for a dark period, censored by the Albanian communist regime, which has left very deep roots in me and in my country.

Elsa Barbieri: How did this nostalgia translate into your artistic research?
Iva Lulashi: It certainly conditioned me, locking me in to a well-defined historical period. But it was precisely this that gave rise to a form of rebellion in which I gave an erotic tint, thanks to the fact that eroticism is one of the spheres that has been most censored. However, I could not ignore that the same form of censorship was exercised in other areas unrelated to communism in Albania. In a certain sense, all of us still live and undergo different forms of censorship and closure. This is how I revised religion as that field that conversed well with eroticism and politics, allowing me to create a sort of triangle that at the same time contained the attraction between these poles and released it outwards.

Elsa Barbieri: The exhibition is crossed by a shared identity, which you assume with Regina José Galindo, in the shape of a body: the body of the other, in your case, that you paint generating always new and unexpected aesthetic overlaps.
Iva Lulashi: True, I always use the body of others. Because for me a body means only a body among other bodies. Even nature and the atmosphere, are bodies, which merge with others when I transpose them on the canvas. It is not only the human body, it is the fusion between it and its surroundings. So I also mean sensuality and eroticism, as a union of human and atmospheric bodies.

Elsa Barbieri: The popular, sometimes dreamlike, scenes that you paint facilitate the intertwining of historical-cultural notions with moments of public and private life widely transmitted and shared in contemporary society. By doing this you make the viewer be an active part in the artistic process because, through contemplation, not only he finds himself recognizing real things, but he invents new ones. Is this the reason why you always paint the moment immediately before or after the action?
Iva Lulashi: Yes. The moment I am most interested in for stopping it on the canvas is the suspended one. I don’t want to send direct messages, I prefer that the narrative remains rather vague. This allows me to see the reaction of the spectator in front of my works and to understand his preferences. Because behind it there is always a personal reason, a memory that perhaps does not have a shape but that the image makes him remember involuntarily.

Now that the references of identification are so fluctuating, the individual production of meaning is more necessary than ever. Compared to the spaces where millions of individuals meet without ever entering into a relationship, driven by the frenetic desire to consume, to speed up daily operations or to access a real or symbolic change, Iva Lulashi’s skill in providing images that are interpretations of individual stories explicitly implicated in collective history, contributes to concretizing Vicino Altrove (Near Elsewhere ) as an anthropological place that acts as a principle of meaning for those who live in it and as a principle of intelligibility for those who observe it.


Regina José Galindo – Iva Lulashi
Vicino Altrove (Near Elsewhere)
Prometeo Gallery Ida Pisani
Opening 29.01.2020

It can only be visited by appointment according to Italian ministerial directives and in respect of the community until a date to be set

Iva Lulashi, Vicino Altrove_Instalation view_Courtesy the Artist and Prometeo Gallery Ida PisaniIva Lulashi, Vicino Altrove, Installation view, Courtesy the Artist and Prometeo Gallery Ida Pisani

Iva Lulashi, Visibile e mobile, oil on canvas, 100×150 cm Courtesy the Artist and Prometeo Gallery Ida Pisani

Iva Lulashi, Amore convergente, Oil on canvas, 60×80 cm Courtesy the Artist and Prometeo Gallery Ida Pisani

Iva Lulashi, Double speeches, 2020, 90×100. Courtesy the Artist and Prometeo Gallery Ida Pisani

Rosanna Rossi. Slight vibrations

I never look like myself. Like Roland Barthes (and like all of us), even Rosanna Rossi, now the protagonist at Prometeogallery, never looks alike.

Elsa Barbieri: Slight vibrations (Vibrazioni Sottili) is the title suggested by Alfredo Cramerotti that, I know, immediately met your favor. I seem to find an extraordinary affinity with that idea of ​​rhythm on which many critics, whose attention you have attracted, have stressed.
Rosanna Rossi: Rhythm is my way of working, it comes from what I produce. It happens that there is a predetermined rhythm, which I follow faithfully. But it can also change during processing, it doesn’t have to be primary. Changing, of course, changes the general effect of the work: in the change of rhythm there is the change in surface, in the image that comes out. It happens even if the rhythm is predetermined. It is not said that the result corresponds to the initial thought.

You come to abstraction after a figurative debut, of expressionist derivation, which was affected by some purely personal events: the war years, the transfer to Tuscany, the teaching at the Cagliari psychiatric hospital.
I taught first at the art school, then at the psychiatric hospital. I was curious to see if there was a difference between a high school student and a young art lover who was confined to a hospital. A significant awareness occurred with one of the patients. Urged to work, one of them told me that looking out the window he saw what he wanted to paint. There was no need, according to him, to reproduce something that already existed and that could be looked at. This alerted me to the necessity of geometry as the supporting form of any figuration, not determined by what appears but by what builds this appearance. Everything has a geometry that underlies it, and this created a new way of understanding the space in front of me. From that moment geometry has always accompanied me, because it is all over the world, from the grass, to the plant, to the human body. You can’t escape.

In geometric jargon the line is a set of points obtained with the continuous movement of a point of the plane. It is the basis of every form. And it is the cornerstone, along with the color, of everything you have transposed over time on the canvas, on the paper, on the table. And in the rounds.
Since I decided to walk the streets of abstraction, the narration is excluded. The line and the color are natural for me, the color becomes a line. And each time it is determined by what I mean by the brushstroke. I also did some really material works. The series of paintings entitled Garze, for example. In that case I used the line in the subject. Or the Carati series, the carat is born from the line and multiplies in the line, with the line. In the beginning I was much more vertical, the surfaces that allowed me to free the body and the mind seduced me. The round, whose shape I rejected the feminine connotation, enclosed me. I left it last. It is, moreover, a completeness from which one cannot ignore or go out. It remains inside, while the outside is perceived as another surface.

Let’s go back to the line. Gillo Dorfles in 1974 wrote that “the lines, the thin lines, the colored bands, which furrow the white neutral surface of the sheet, are for Rosanna Rossi almost bands of a spectrum that denounce the presence of precious minerals in a remote planet. The planet – dissolving the metaphor – is, of course, the mind and heart of the painter “. You have known how to never separate mind and heart, thought and emotion.
Without one there is no other. Without heart there is no intelligence, without intelligence there is no goodness, without goodness there cannot exist a determined way of changing the world. Because after all the starting point is always this wanting to change the world, I myself wanted to change the little world that surrounded me through what I did.

Rosanna, I tried to understand you as a woman and as an artist, two identities that coexist in you as if they were one synonym of the other. There is an indissoluble link between your career and your life, and your works are proof of this. They are able to take charge of the presence of those who look at them and at the same time, without intrusiveness, to return your artistic soul.
Quite right. Here it is my desire to communicate but without forcing or punching. Following the logic I made communication in the simplest and most peaceful way.

How can you never look like yourself and, at the same time, be so coherent?
Because I am authentic, can I tell? (laughs) This was the image I wanted of me. I always wanted to keep myself consistent without depriving myself of the freedom to be what I wanted to be at that precise moment. Diversity exists and when I work I try to give myself in totality and above all with the truth. Always.

The feeling that Rosanna Rossi leaves is that this “always” is to refer to the past and what she has done as well as to the future time and to what she will do. Vibrazioni Sottili realizes a desire that has required three years of study and research and well returns an artistic career based on continuous experimentation for over sixty years. Drawing on the metaphor of musical progression, we witness the reality of Rosanna Rossi who, having always proceeded in an abstract direction, with a strong intellectual content as well as a precise civil commitment, is perfectly in tune with the spirit of Prometeogallery and more than ever actual in the debate on art and female identity today. She who “never looks alike”, who has gone through a coherent, and always manifest, process, has been able to transform the work into a new alphabet of shapes and colors, spaces and surfaces that continually awaken the imaginative capacity, returning on time, a harmonious and never provocative beauty.


Rosanna Rossi. Slight vibrations (Vibrazioni sottili)
25 September – 05 November 2019
Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani
Via Privata G. Ventura 6, Milano

Rosanna RossiRosanna Rossi, Vibrazioni sottili. Senza titolo (Bande Colorate), 1972, acrilico su tela, 150×200. Courtesy: Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani

Rosanna Rossi, Vibrazioni sottili. Senza titolo (Spaghi), 1978/79, spago su carta Arches, 49×49 cm cad. (Installazione 6 e 9 pezzi). Courtesy: Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani

Rosanna Rossi, Vibrazioni sottili. Installation view (sx/dx): Senza titolo (Bande Colorate), 1982, acrilico su tela, 150x150cm / Senza titolo (Omaggio a Klimt), 1982, acrilico su tela, 200×150 cm / Acqua, 1979/80, pastelli su tela di lino, 200×150 cm. Courtesy: Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani

Rosanna Rossi, Vibrazioni sottili. Installation View (sx/dx): Senza titolo (Forma Sonata), 2007, acrilico e olio su tela di lino, 200×150 cm / Senza titolo (Beautiful Lines), pennarello su tela, 150×120 cm. Courtesy: Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani

Ekaterina Panikanova. Crossing my garden

To those who follow already beaten paths, renouncing the search for their own, and other, courageous way to go, Ekaterina Panikanova extends her hand to accompany them to cross her garden, where each step does not lead to a goal but is itself a goal, in the moment in which it proceeds forward.

Attraversando il mio giardino (Crossing my garden), the exhibition curated by Marina Dacci, seems to be the concrete implementation of the answer to the question that common sense has adapted from Gauguin’s masterpiece: Where do we come from? Who we are? Where do we go? And in a certain sense the solution, one, is contained in the polarization, among the most distinctive of the human field, between nature and culture.

Born in 1975 in Russia and graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts of St. Petersburg, Panikanova has lived in Rome for more than twenty years. The city is the scene of her punctual search for books, notebooks, scholastic and informative texts that she finds in the most traditional markets of fleas and thrift. All inherent in schooling, education or religion, those spheres that therefore direct individuals to a hypothetical behavioral ideal, conforming them to a series of conventionally recognized codes, these writings are taken up and re-contextualized by the artist who paints them in ink and acrylic with a series of subjects that emerge from the intimate sphere of his childhood memories.

At the entrance of her garden Panikanova puts a video cameo that stimulates a memory of the planetary movement, which has always fascinated the human mind. And as on the screen the two balloons slowly float in the water of a swimming pool, so we move towards the site specific wall work entitled Sopra(v)vento. Developed on three different levels, the watercolor paper, the books nailed to it and a video projection, the work requires focusing on the wind as a natural element, now projected on paper after the artist filmed it when it blew strongly in the countryside of the Agro Pontino, making the fronds of the eucalyptus trees rustle.

Knowing the habitat that surrounds her, Panikanova did not randomly choose eucalyptus but she knows about that ancient belief – rooted since the times of drainage – which attributed to it purifying properties. It is so, with the sound and the movement so vigorous as to hypnotize, that it tickles the viewer to take over, getting rid of the constrictive repression of his own unconscious. Now the doors of the imaginative dimension have opened up, the crossing of the garden seems to materialize when you reach the great installation with which the artist puts herself to the test, experimenting with the medium and the use of materials so far unrelated to her.

The palaces of glasses, real containers of memories that revive childhood memories and family traditions, together with the towers of books full of stories, the elements of the animal kingdom, the monochromatic stains that report to the Rorschach test, the life-bearing nests and those laces, reproduced in ceramics and porcelain on the model of humble feminine activity, so similar to mushrooms and molds to be confused: everything gives shape to the carpet of the chimeric garden of Panikanova in which the natural cycle seems to be completed harmoniously.

Perhaps also inebriate by the sense of well-being that pervades a space where nature and culture are accomplices and are not mutually exclusive, urged to accept the idea of ​​end as a transformation, all that remains is to go through them in order to really investigate one’s own personality, examining the functioning of the thinking, examining reality and measuring the capacity for correct representation of oneself, and of others, in relationships. The delicacy and complexity that define the walk induce us to project ourselves out of ourselves.

Towards L’Altrove, for example, as the title of the other cameo video suggests, a few steps from the installation, where a girl on a swing gives her back to the viewer while another figure, feminine although invisible, observes them. Freed from any interference, this is the first opportunity to test oneself and relate to another presence. Who is it? It is not known. As indeed we will never know the form of that instance that inevitably directs us and shapes us. We can, at most, hypothesize it.

And the doubt comes that it looks like a book, black on the surface, like the one that Panikanova nailed to the entrance wall. Similar to that book, only in appearance is the individual defined by a set of properties, according to a merely proprietary and disjunctive logic: besides there are all those relations between opposites that mutually imply each other and always call for new, even if hidden, identification processes. Crossing Panikanova’s garden means then discovering them and discovering them means that the Self is (free to be) other – borrowing – and transforming – the words that Arthur Rimbaud wrote.


Ekaterina Panikanova. Attraversando il mio giardino
curated by Marina Dacci
20 June – 31 July 2019
z2o – Sara Zanin Gallery
Via della Vetrina 21, Roma

Ekaterina Panikanova. Attraversando il mio giardino, 2019
Installation view, room 1

Ekaterina Panikanova. Soprav(v)ento, 2019
disegno su carta, libri, acrilico, inchiostro, chiodi, video, loop dimensioni site specific
Installation view, room 2

Ekaterina Panikanova Attraversando il mio giardinoEkaterina Panikanova. Attraversando il mio giardino, 2019
Installation view, room 3

Ekaterina Panikanova. Attraversando il mio giardino, 2019
Installation view, room 3

For all images: Courtesy z2o Sara Zanin Gallery, Rome
Ph. by Giorgio Benni

Elisa Sighicelli. Storie di Pietròfori e Rasomanti

Elisa Sighicelli does not want to tell any story but, with Stories of Pietròfori and Rasomanti, she addresses the prompt invitation to observe. The exhibition, curated by Denise Maria Pagano, is the second episode of a trilogy on spaces – after Palazzo Madama in Turin and before the intervention at Castello di Rivoli on Villa Cerruti – and winds through eight rooms, exceptionally transformed into magical spaces, of the Pignatelli Museum, among the very rare houses-museums of Naples that since 2010 is also known as Villa Pignatelli – House of photography. Dispelling the belief of a documentary and merely reproductive function of photography, Sighicelli, among the most internationally appreciated Italian artists, does not use the camera in a forcibly artistic and representative manner, but wisely leaves it to act as a tool capable of recording traces of autonomous presence , tearing the veil of its potential as a material, even before it as a medium.

The thirty-three photographs on display, made from scratch, are not just images, or the product of a technique and an action, but also – and above all – real iconic acts. They are images, it’s true. But active images, with an extraordinary semantic force, which are not limited to the gesture of production properly so called because they include the act of reception and contemplation, seek a wider fruition space, craving an almost physical interaction. And it is from the encounter with the specific and absolutely unconventional materials on which they are printed, from the floating satin, to the porous travertine, up to the shining marble, that these photographs find new life, which reverberates silently in the play of reflections, of shadows and backlight, as in an unpredictable kaleidoscope of shapes and colors.

The feeling is that Sighicelli, seizing the infinite possibilities of the photographic medium as an irreplaceable critical tool of analysis, capable of influencing the visual interpretation of reality, places it at the foundation of a path that reflects on the relationship between objects in the space, enhancing its transformative and evocative capacity. In fact, the subjects immortalized become here, now, objects on multiple levels, exposed, investigated and solved according to the intention of detecting-revealing every representative and perceptive manifestation of reality.

Two marble photographs of a human table stand, like two different points of view of a single body, introduce the exhibition, tickling the spectator not to disregard the correspondence between the subject and the support. In the first rooms, which seem to be inhabited by fantastic and illusionistic forms, effects of light and movement we meet a series of prints on satin, bright, alive, unstable, which moves.

From the ballroom of Villa Pignatelli, Sighicelli, letting herself be guided by her own impressions, exploits the almost magical potential of some mirrors, rendered inmogeneous by oxidation, to create a filter with a pictorial effect, capable of transforming the characteristic neoclassical style of architecture in a series of ghostly images, where the lights of the crystals of luxurious chandeliers are enhanced and the colors vibrate. From the Villa Floridiana collection of Murano glass he photographs details with two different fires, cleverly placed one in front of the other, to give us the impression of an afterimage that continues to appear in the vision even after the view of the original is ceased.

And yet, from the Carriage Museum, she immortalizes some details of the headlight of the carriages in such a close way as to blur them up to destabilize the view, returning a vivid impression of fluidity. Thus we define the contours of a magical universe, sometimes dreamlike, capable of becoming substance and impressing, with ever new thicknesses. Beyond the villa, at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples and at the Centrale Montemartini in Rome, Sighicelli took the photographs exhibited in the last rooms. Printed on marble and travertine, they capture the curvilinear and muscular gestures and poses of the ancient bodies of classical sculpture, including two details of the Farnese Bull representing Dirce’s torture, together with the fineness of tombs and a detail of the façade of the Gesù Nuovo church in Naples.

Volume, porosity and veins of invariably two-dimensional objects confuse us by transmitting the idea of ​​three-dimensionality. But there is no short circuit between reality and representation. What we perceive as immediate is, in fact, a mediated relationship between experience and medium. They engage reality as it can be understood beyond representation, everything depends on the use made of it to perceive reality. It is therefore the faculty to recognize in them their materiality and their tangibility, in real space, to restore their scope: the intentionality, not the time of recovery, guarantees the duration of these photographs, as well as a testimony, as a reality same as our time.

Elsa Barbieri


Storie di Pietròfori e Rasomanti
Elisa Sighicelli
curated by Denise Maria Pagano
Promoted by Polo Museale della Campania headed by Anna Imponente and by Incontri Internazionali d’Arte
Museo Pignatelli
Riva di Chiaia, 200 – Napoli
30 May – 22 September 2019

Elisa SighicelliElisa Sighicelli. Storie di Pietròfori e Rasomanti
Installation view at Museo Pignatelli, Napoli. Ph credits: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano

Elisa Sighicelli. Storie di Pietròfori e Rasomanti
Installation view at Museo Pignatelli, Napoli. Ph credits: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano

Elisa Sighicelli. Storie di Pietròfori e Rasomanti
Installation view at Museo Pignatelli, Napoli. Ph credits: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano

Elisa Sighicelli, Untitled (9074), 2018 100 x 80 x 4 cm Photograph printed on marble
By permission of Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali – Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
Courtesy l’artista Credito fotografico Sebastiano Pellion di Persano

Matteo Fato. The presentiment of other possibilities

A terrible spell. Terrible, yes. But do not let yourselves, I beg you, be deceived by the derogatory meaning that commonly prejudices the use of this term, on the contrary, impress in your minds what Søren Kierkegaard wrote in his Diary: “anxiety is the first reflection of possibility, a beating of the eye, and yet possesses a terrible spell. “With these words Matteo Fato, one of the most interesting artists of the contemporary art scene, welcomes the visitors at Francesco Messina Studio Museum, the occasional stage of the exhibition The presentiment of other possibilities, curated by Sabino Maria Frassà. Akin to the idea of ​​a man who is as big as the depth of his anguish, well understood as the general relationship with the world that the individual produces in his heart, Fato did not hurry what he had to do but he took three years to prepare an exhibition that visually translates the rational synthesis of his totalizing vision of painting.

Winner of the Cramum Award in 2016, he took the opportunity to exhibit in what for twenty years has been the Italian twentieth century artist Francesco Messina’s studio, to obtain the freedom of a self-reflexive approach, trying to make his own the host space instead of invading it. And he succeeded, brilliantly overcoming the treacherous challenge of an ex-post verification that can unleash new meanings but also possible inconsistencies. The four floors of the museum become a lyrical-temporal circuit in which the terms of the reflection that Fato conducted on painting and its technical, chromatic and spatial articulations are traced, with installation accents in its most intense results.

Painting, drawing and engraving are compared with those materials that in the past were considered simple supports or structures, such as wood, mirror and neon, and that today have become language finding expression in a site-specific design. The suggestion that we are invited to take at the entrance – and that we take home in the form of a poster that Matteo Fato and Gianni Garrera give us – is that “It is not the Art that imitates Nature, but Nature that imitates the ‘Art”. And if “Production is the fulfillment of contemplation” then it is so, enriched with this precious suggestion, that on the ground floor we contemplate four works, made between 2012 and 2019, which summarize the course of the series of bust paintings, focal in Fato’s artistic research since, around twelve years ago, by chance and luck, he found and made an abandoned bust.

The visitor’s eye rushes towards the translation of the physicality of painting into an organic brain mass that distinguishes the imposing Eresia (del) Florilegio (2018). An emblematic work not only because the heresy of florilegio exhorts to meditate on the possibility of error, to avert the risk of a lifeless art, but also because the presence – typical, in the title – of a punctuation mark stimulates a slow and reflective reading. Not neglecting the installation built around the object with which the engravers calibrated the chiaroscuro, the pine cone, Cose Naturali (Pigna) and Senza Titolo (Argilla), we climb the two floors going through chalcographic incisions, drawings and contact prints from the pinhole photos series (observing the word) (2005-19) that lead us to (The presentiment of other possibilities) (2016-19), multilayer sculpture and oil painting (3 years accumulation) which gives the title to the exhibition. The bust seems to put the accent on the partial meaning of every possible, leaving a definitive sign that subtracts space from the dimension of the finite and opens up the search for the infinite.

Finally, we go down to the basement, where the eye falls since the first steps we move inside the museum, recalled by a large and fragmented volume that we try to restore in our imagination. It is a tripod, yes, broken. Because it is precisely inside his studio that the artist dispenses life and energy, weaving plots of images that are indirectly given. Per gli angeli più alti (2015/19) is the last colossal work in the exposed series of reproductions of an ancient easel, started in 2011 with (Osservando la Parola) and taken between 2012 and 2014 with (Corna di bue). What is hidden behind these easels, in the most hidden room of space, is the most recent work, Portrait of a Self-Portrait (2019), which makes the pre-existing and exposed collection of self-portraits by Francesco Messina, an object of study, of representation and installation. This concludes the synthesis that Matteo Fato has set up, making a series of choices in the awareness that in them, once completed, the possibility has been played of giving direction and development to his own artistic path, leaving the presentiment of others (and future) possibilities.

Elsa Barbieri


Matteo Fato. Il presentimento di altre possibilità
curated by Sabino Maria Frassà
Studio Museo Francesco Messina
May 24 – June 23 2019
In collaboration with Cramum

The exhibition is possible thanks to the support of: Galleria Monitor Rome / Lisbon; Sanpaolo Invest-Private Bank; Masciarelli Tenute Agricole; PARCO1923 e PTC-Professional Trust Company

Matteo Fato

Matteo Fato, solo show, Il presentimento di altre possibilità
curated by Sabino Maria Frassà; hypothesis by Gianni Garrera
installation view
Studio Museo Francesco Messina, Milano
photo Michele Alberto Sereni Courtesy Monitor, Rome – Lisbon