Prefer the shadow, in Palermo

Giacomo Pigliapoco and Luca Gennati, in collaboration with Cassata Drone Expanded Archive, presented Preferire l’ombra, with works by James Bridle, Valentina Furian, Paolo Cirio, Il Pavone, Julius Neubronner, Marco Strappato. The locations occupied for this exhibition were the Loggiato di San Bartolomeo of the Sant’Elia Foundation and the attic of via Malta 21, now the main headquarters of Cassata Drone. The title refers to a constant balance between visibility and invisibility in the relationship between overseer and supervised: the subject of investigation is surveillance in its civil, military, visual and primitive aspects. A research therefore that starts with modern drones with the intention of declaring the need for a personal obscuration strategy. Not only does the overseer remain invisible preferring the shadow, but even the patrolled should propose to consciously remove himself from the spotlight. As pointed out by the two curators – Giacomo Pigliapoco and Luca Gennati – “in the age of mass surveillance, the connection between what is obscure and decentralized is seen as a common act of resistance. The totality of the centralized elements tend to control and dampen the subversive potential of the dark and, referring to Simmel, secret societies.

This must be underlined because we should all prefer – preferring to mention necessarily the one recognized by American literature – the shadow, first understanding it and then choosing it. The increasingly obvious overlap of the idea of ​​being human with the reality of technologically advanced beings leads to the search for possibilities of evasion of media control. The constant endoscopic look of the control society, composed of virtual eyes grafted onto the nodes of the internet network, pushes the individual inner selves to find elements of escape and isolation towards a desire for full autonomy and freedom… We must know how to choose how and when to opt for shadows: in this way we can make ourselves visible or invisible according to our needs. Finding an area of ​​uncontrolled movement requires a set of skills that allow an individual to achieve full control and power over himself. The hacker community is certainly able to interpret the mechanisms of the network: thanks to their ability to read and modify the language of computer programming, they can guarantee a direct and fair relationship between citizens and information systems”.

The artist and writer James Bridle created the public work Drone Shadow in the Piazza Cassa di Risparmio. On the Via Malta site, instead, the archive photos of the German chemist Julius Neubronner, the inventor of aerial photography with pigeons, and the audiovisual installation Fruit of the rowan by Valentina Furian have been proposed. Finally, in the Loggiato di San Bartolomeo, three works: Flying over the white threshold by Marco Strappato and Sociality by Paolo Cirio and a new production by the collective Il Pavone. It should be noted that the work of Paolo Cirio is composed of more than 20.000 patents, hacked by the artist himself, on the prediction of social behavior, highlighting the ubiquitous technological control to which we are constantly subjected.

Ultimately, with these few words, we want to emphasize that this exhibition had not only the intent of a visual value, but wanted to be hypnotic at the level of content, thus descending into the field of social and political. Social and political, two big words, to be understood in the highest sense of the term, thus touching on the themes that involve any contemporary community: a group of citizens who are often forced to live contemporaneity without being able to make opposition.

Paolo Cirio, Sociality, 2018, digital print on paper, variable dimensions, installazione per Fondazione Sant’Elia. Ph A.Gambino, courtesy Cassata Drone Expanded ArchivePaolo Cirio, Sociality, 2018, digital print on paper, variable dimensions, installazione per Fondazione Sant’Elia. Ph A. Gambino, courtesy Cassata Drone Expanded Archive

Marco Strappato, Flying over the white threshold, 2019, two-channel video installation, loop, in collaboration with Gianluca Moscoloni, installazione per Fondazione Sant’Elia. Ph A.Gambino per Cassata Drone Expanded Archive, courtesy The Gallery Apart Rome

Preferire l’ombraJames Bridle, Drone Shadow, 2013, road marking paint, model RQ-4A Global Hawk, 35.4 x 13.5 m. Installazione realizzata per Piazza Cassa di Risparmio

Il Pavone, Thunder Scorpion, 2019, two-channel video installation, loop, installazione per Fondazione Sant’Elia. Ph A. Gambino, courtesy Cassata Drone Expanded Archive

Sculpting the memory. Danh Vo, Untitled

The South London Gallery presents Untitled the first London-based solo-show of the artist Danh Vo, born in 1975 in Vietnam, naturalized Danish, internationally known for being awarded of the Hugo Boss Prize in 2012, and for his participation at the Venice Biennale in 2013 and 2019. Reflecting a cultural heritage almost unknown to the West except from the media coverage, Danh Vo narrates a different story for what is the contemporary Vietnamise socio, political, and cultural context. His practice proposes another story with the right critical distance of those belonging to a later generation and the intellectual honesty that characterizes Western ideology in a way that is relevant to create new bonds between East and West. Actually, for Untitled, Danh Vo tells us a biographical story whereby it is impossible to ignore the artistic act for the ways this is profoundly immersed in experiences and contexts. The monographic exhibition is in fact, characterized by the succession of biographical notes always understood within a system of relations whereby one can trace the influences and the exchanges with other contemporary figures. This results as an archaeological composition that starts from the biographical memories of the artist and evolves as the thought of a community that is sensitive to certain themes.

In the main gallery, Untitled traces a genealogical path that, if we like, is useful to rethink the notion of identity in the fluid and hybrid contemporary context. This landscape is composed of the series of oil paintings on mirrors, Glow in the Dark, by the Danish artist Peter Bonde, who followed Danh Vo’s training from the very beginning at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and, despite the controversies on style for what has been defined a ‘not very macho’ approach to painting, considered to entail with him a fruitful and respectful collaboration. As a perfect composition of genres and styles, Bondès pictorial works opens up to the biographical and archival dimension of the exhibition, reflecting other works of different nature. The paintings are altered by a series of graphic works that Danh Vo commissioned to his father, Phung Vo, a skilled calligrapher, which suggest a reflection beyond good and evil through different alphabets and stylistic registers. These works are accompanied by a series of photographs by the German artist Heinz Peter Knes, the artist’s partner, which present a series of portraits of Gustav, the artist’s nephew and muse. Images and texts take a sculptural dimension where one can find the cast of a bed, here designed according to the model Autoprogettazione by the Italian designer Enzo Mari in the ’70s, revisited through the pattern decoration of the Danish modernist designer Nanna Ditzel. It is worth noting, as we will later see, how the material of this sculpture is a walnut wood coming from the Californian Sierra Orchards estate owned by Craig McNamara, an American environmental educator and the son of  the USA Defense Minister, Robert McNamara who in the 70s played a decisive role for what were the military operations in Vietnam. By outlining this genealogy, the artist makes his own  mark in the sculpture Lick me, Lick me, 2015, which revisits classical mythology, is covered with a manna, which was the source of nourishment for American soldiers in Vietnam and which serves here to evoke childhood memories of the artist.

At the Fire station of the South London Gallery, the exhibition reflects a continuity of thought through the use of the same wooden material gifted by Craig McNamara to Danh Vo, when a greenhouse of walnut trees was found when the artist became interested in the property of his father. From this gesture, we understand how this material has become a stylist trait of Dan Voh’s artistic practice that he uses for designing the interiors of the exhibition’s display with the idea of sculpting a new historical memory. The same material is employed to frame a series of photographs taken by the anthropologist Dr, Joseph M Carrier, in Vietnam before 1967, and kept in the archive until the meeting with the artist.

Not limited to the contemporary context, however, Danh Vo retraces the history of Vietnam back to the early 1900, paying homage to the French missionary Jean André Soulié who, during a mission in South Asia, discovered over 7,000 botanical species, before undergoing execution in Tibet in 1905, here made known by a letter reproduced by the artist’s father. From this event, Danh Vo gives us back, in addition to the rare archival photographs, a post-colonialist thought which can be metaphorically drawn from how many of the indigenous species found by the missionary have now entered a modern scientific catalogation through the name of Rosa souleiana. By making visible an invisible history, Danh Vo relies on the need of formulating a new thought for the rewriting of a historical memory that one can observe in the counterpoint room of this archive wherein the artist rethinks the myth of Eros from the fragments of a surviving Prussian archaeology.

To crown this archaeological of thought is a selection of works already present for the Macho Man exhibition: Tell it to My Heart, collected by Julie Ault, by the curator Julie Ault who has followed the work of Danh Vo during his studies at the Royal Danish Academy and position his work in line with the works of artists such as Nancy, Spero, Felix-Gonzales Torres, Corita Kent, Andres Serrano, Roni Horn, James Benning, who have always been attentive to the conceptual dimension of their practice in relation to specific contexts. In the spirit of alliance  and friendship, we see how the practice of Danh Vo draws an archival genealogy that is projected into the future. Here, the artist considers the social dimension of his work through  a project designed for children who are invited to experiment with the materials dear to the artist in the Art Block space of the South London Gallery. In this sense, Danh Vo narrates a different history of inclusion and diversity.


Danh Vo, Untitled
19 September – 24 November 2019
South London Gallery
65 Peckham Rd, London SE5 8UH

Danh VoInstallation view of Danh Vo: untitled at the South London Gallery, 2019. Photo: Nick Ash

Danh Vo, untitled, 2019 (detail). Installation view at the South London Gallery, 2019 Courtesy the artist. Photo: Nick Ash

Installation view of Danh Vo: untitled at the South London Gallery, 2019. Photo: Nick Ash

Danh Vo, Untitled, 2018 (detail). Installation view at the South London Gallery, 2019 Courtesy the artist. Photo: Nick Ash

Paola Giordano protagonist of a multisensory event at Brera Academy in Milan

In the age of new technologies, creative languages ​​are multiplying and are gradually abandoning the ancient aesthetic taxonomies, which are less and less able to interpret the multiform expressions of contemporary art.

The notion of “sustainability”, which in the last century takes on a so-called eco-environmental connotation, as it refers to an economic development that does not compromise natural resources and therefore does not diminish the quality of life on the planet of future generations , becomes in the last decades an interpretative category of contemporary art, which is forced to abandon the now obsolete identification mechanisms mostly based on progressively disused techniques, supplanted by new technologies and new media.

In this scenario, using the words of the American philosopher Nelson Goodman, any creative output is analyzed based on the “symptoms of aesthetics”. On the one hand, a multi-millennial methodological approach is adopted that elects certain senses (sight and hearing), as a privileged medium of Beauty at the expense of the so-called lower senses (touch, smell and taste), considered too corporal to allow aesthetic apprehension, on the other digital tools and capacities become the new means through which the contemporary artist expresses himself with always new and different creative results, often able to excite the so-called “consumer” in a multisensory way.

Therefore, in the debate of contemporary art the “artistic” work is in itself sustainable both in that it is beautiful and good in the Aristotelian sense, and in that it is the bearer of a message of Beauty which, at the same time, necessarily, is of social edification, and finally as a synthesis of different creative languages, of a sort of bridging between them, so as to acquire its uniqueness and originality, the result of such osmosis and aesthetic dialogues allowed by the digital world.

In this context, the artistic dialogue event “Music of Painting. The Music of Painting ” from October 24th to November 6th 2019 at the former Church of San Carpoforo at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan. The works of the artist Paola Giordano with a soundtrack composed by the students of the Soundart master of the ARD & NT Institute (Brera Academy of Fine Arts and Milan Polytechnic), and with a musical performance by the famous Swiss pianist Silvan Zingg in the inaugural session, are the protagonists. An artistic exhibition of medium-large paintings including the famous work “Quo vadis”, where the artist confronts the quantum theory of parallel universes. It is a work of about 5 meters long and 3 meters high, which in 2017, as a part of the traveling exhibition OUR PLACE IN SPACE, commissioned by NASA and ESA, was exhibited first in Venice at Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, then in Chiavenna at the former Convento dei Cappuccini, and in 2018 in Garching, Munich, Germany, at the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Center. In April 2019 it has been presented at Palazzo Marino in Milan as part of a Design Week event promoted by the Municipality of Milan.

Among the other works exhibited in the former Church of San Carpoforo stands “Le nuova Madonne”, already presented at the XXII Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010. A tribute to the woman of the third millennium, still too often abused and subjected to violence, to search for a new social identity in an increasingly controversial metropolitan reality, dominated by the appearance, from the ephemeral search for a “like / don’t like”, as the Korean philosopher Byung-Chul Han would say.

The event, which is organized by the ARD & NT Institute ( and the Ethicando Association of Milan (, is also an occasion for the presentation of the book “Paola Giordano. Metropolitan Suggestions between Life and Art “(Marco Eugenio Di Giandomenico, Publisher Ethicando, Milan, 2019), which tells the life and works of the artist and also addresses the age-old question of the sustainability of contemporary art. This editorial work wants to have an original narrative cut. The author imagines a chance encounter with the artist on the occasion of a gala dinner at one of the CityLife skyscrapers in Milan, where they are both invited, and while approaching the elevator to reach the top floor, an electrical blackout keeps them in silence and in the dark for about two hours. In this moment of uncertainty and dismay, the two weave a dense conversation outside time and space, in the Platonic dialogical manner, where Paola Giordano recounts her life and artistic experiences, and the author addresses some of the issues at the center of the debate contemporary art, including the relationship between art and science, the sustainability of art, the spiritual aspects of art, the creative languages ​​of the third millennium and others.

Marco Eugenio Di Giandomenico
(Critic of Sustainable Art)

Paola Giordano, Le nuove Madonne, 2010

Paola Giordano, Quo Vadis, 2017

La Pittura della Musica. La Musica della Pittura, installation view at Chiesa di San Carpoforo, Brera Academy, Milan

Gaia Fugazza’s shamanic painting at GALLLERIAPIÙ

The liquidity of the new media in recent years has revolutionized the status of the image, acquiring the gaze and the mind to chameleonic visions in constant metamorphosis that occur in parallel digital universes in which everything can be transformed into its opposite, without interruption. The rule is the absence of limits and the new dogma seems to be immersion, understood as the total adherence of the senses to the object of perception. The ostentatious anarchy of ultra-contemporary languages, which borrow their technical artifices from open source software for programming videogames by winking at the dynamics of artificial intelligence, is an expression of a self-referential individualism that, in the absence of comparison, generates a dangerous aesthetic and ideological homologation. If the body becomes an inert appendix and the mind channels desire into a virtual elsewhere, it is very difficult to establish deep relationships with what surrounds us and also the imagination languishes in a forest of pre-established possibilities that do not offer real openings towards a truly free and independent thought.

In my opinion these concepts are fundamental to introduce the work of Gaia Fugazza (Milan, 1985), visual artist and performer currently protagonist in Bologna of the exhibition Hostages and Friends in the spaces of GALLLERIAPIÙ. Her painting spontaneously incorporates the phantasmagoric instances of the most up-to-date contemporary imagery without being caged by their codified dynamics and directly draws its own reasons from the ancestral human need to produce images, manifested since the prehistoric era, fully sharing its mythopoeic vocation. The most accredited theories on the origin of cave paintings, previously interpreted as hunting scenes, claim that they were instead made by people in an altered state of consciousness for a ritual function. In fact, these mysterious representations frequently display hybrid characters between human and feral beings, fantastic creatures and undocumented animal species in those geographies. They are found in very deep caves, almost inaccessible shelters where the deprivation of light, the altered perception of time and the winter deficiency of vitamins could favor hallucinogenic experiences. The artist, who has dedicated her master thesis at the Chelsea College of Arts in London to the topic, entitled Art of Former Nomadic People, conceives art as a form of resistance to the anxieties of a closed space (the prehistoric physical space and the contemporary mental space) and as a psychedelic technique of transcendence.

Her work embraces an animistic conception of the world, is placed in an indefinite space-time in which the transition from nomadic to agricultural and sedentary life hasn’t metaphorically take place and welcomes the mystery of a powerful nature permeated with sacred ferocity. By recovering the aesthetic and identity value of the materials she uses, most of them of natural origin without substantial chromatic manipulations, and by re-enacting the sapiential properties of plants and other life forms that populate the Earth, Gaia Fugazza demonstrates how the idea of man’s predominance over nature derives from an ideological misunderstanding of the notion of intelligence, which for centuries has been tendentiously associated with purely human characteristics, such as thought and word. The antidote to these false axioms is for the artist a vigilant opening to non-codified forms of knowledge and intuition, such as altered states of consciousness, in which the subversion of rational logics and the intersection between categories usually considered impermeable become explicit. This mental and perceptive exercise does not result in a generic exaltation of primitivism understood as an absolute value, but wants to be the first overwhelming step of a project of expansion of awareness aimed at the re-appropriation of the infinite possibilities that existence offers us.

This is why in Gaia Fugazza’s practice carving, modeling and engraving are gestures that are repeated as rituals and the materials, which have value above all because of their concrete belonging to reality, are the ingredients of a cure that restores the natural order of the elements for re-educating the sensory perceptions to the osmosis of the forms and to the collaboration between the species. Porcupine thorns, wax, iron oxide, graphite, copper, teal green, malachite, zinc and charred bones stratify on wooden boards to build wonderful dreamlike ecosystems wrapped in an aura of mystery and ambiguity, which seem absurdly familiar but at the same time unattainable. The entry into these visionary worlds requires a prolonged observation and the total sensibility of the gaze to follow the path of a line, to penetrate the splintered furrows of the wood, to slip on the soft and shiny thickness of the wax or to absorb the opalescent depths of a chromatic layer.

Only in this way contemplation can be transformed into an experience: the distance between what is seen and what can be imagined is annulled, the colors of things restore their presence beyond illusion, time stops but the life starts to throb again. Copper in contact with aluminum oxidizes and turns blue or green while an orgy of frogs melts in the heat of a mineral sun. The buzzing of the bees also fills the eyes while at a distance of a few steps the pudimic mimosa is savored while it circulates a double white body. A porcupine pin forever nails the primordial painter in front of the colors of his hallucination; everything can still move, but the balance remains unperturbed. It is at the same time day, night and dawn, around a body of water or a reflection of the sky there are those who drink, those who give birth and those who defecate, while someone, driven by the same greater strength that subjugates the course of the grain of the wood, walks away from his community. The ego becomes the other: at the foot of a large Buddleia plant a pregnant monkey dreams while a scribe draws his thoughts, in the branches the birds hatch their nest in a blaze of inflorescences, which are themselves seeds of new plants and new men. And finally we too are gently taken hostage by a vision that will be impossible to forget.


Gaia Fugazza. Ostaggi e Amici
28 September – 9 November 2019
via del Porto 48 a/b Bologna

Gaia Fugazza, Gli indifferenti, 2019, detail

Gaia FugazzaGaia Fugazza, Ciao Api, 2019, detail

Gaia Fugazza, Queste rane, 2019, detail

Gaia Fugazza, Non chiedermi perchè, 2019, detail

For all the images: courtesy GALLLERIAPIÙ

Earth shakes (Terra Trema) at Thomas Dane Gallery in Naples

At the Thomas Dane Gallery six Brazilian artists of different generations meet in Terra Trema, a collective exhibition created by the Neapolitan gallery in collaboration with the Mendes Wood Gallery in Sāo Paulo. The title recalls the homonymous film in which Luchino Visconti in 1948 was filming the novella I Malavoglia (1881) by Giovanni Verga. Ideally continuing this great epochal fresco in a matriarchal sense and setting it in Latin America, the exhibition explores a period from 1968 to the present day through the works of Paloma Bosquê, Anna Bella Geiger, Sonia Gomes, Patricia Leite, Solange Pessoa and Leticia Ramos, which naturally fit into the Neapolitan multicultural scenario.

The work of Leticia Ramos (Santo Antônio da Patrulha, 1976) focuses on a search for the principles of photographic image. The artist has traveled to the most distant places, such as the Polar Circle, to capture dream landscapes that encourage the public to wonder about the veracity of the photographic image. Her primordial visions evoke a dystopian future and resist the anxious speed of contemporary visual culture. Made with simple means, they explore the limits of analogue photography by experimenting with different techniques to capture light without a camera, directly impressing photosensitive paper. Photography is interpreted as a form of mechanical and chemical magic: capturing the trajectory of light on silver gelatin, the artist creates “landscapes without the landscape”, whose powerful and deliberately ambiguous aesthetic investigates the illusion and malleability of real. Her method includes the use of documentation techniques manipulated to obtain spectral and semi-abstract visions. The film in the exhibition, “Não éficial para um investigador da natureza simular os fenômenos” (2018), documents a sequence of simulated volcanic eruptions in which it is almost impossible to distinguish reality and fiction.

Sonia Gomes (Caetanópolis, 1948) for decades worked in relative isolation in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte. Her sculptures are made with fabric, threads and light objects found or donated that play with the spiritual potential of their combination. The compositions derive from a spontaneous and casual practice of deconstruction and re-assembly of these fortuitous daily encounters, in which the vestiges of indefinable previous existences and the physicality of the present converge. In the meticulous folds of these sculptural fabrics traditional craftsmanship and an erudite and precise gesture converge, ready-made and authorship. Gomes’ precarious textile sculptures mix biographical and historical memories with intuitive materializations to redistribute the complexity of existence in new organic forms and pulsating visions of life. In Maria dos Anjos, (2017-2018) the artist reworks an enormous wedding dress received as a gift in Venice. Transforming used clothes into sculpture implies for her an assumption of responsibility towards the stories of the people to whom they belonged, it is a sort of ritual that continues the magical practice with which her mother, of African origins, blessed people with a branch of a plant called Arruda.

The soapstone sculptures of Solange Pessoa (Ferros, 1961) resemble large relics or archaeological remains that recall the primordial origins and prehistoric life and arouse a catastrophic sensation in relation to the passage of time and its impact. Her main source of inspiration is the personal memories related to Minas Gerais, the Brazilian state in which she was born and lives, to which a deep bond of love and disillusionment ties her. The country is indeed very hospitable for foreign travelers, but every year hundreds of people are killed and as many women raped. The steatite skulls made by the artist resemble pebbles polished by the sea whose rounded ends have been patiently rounded by the waves. Their hollow volumes are welcoming and threatening at the same time, fascinating and painful and their presence wants to reactivate the traditions of the artist’s homeland without reinforcing the isolation stereotypes.

Since the 1960s, Anna Bella Geiger has explored the relationship between body, space and national territory by extending the language of maps and cosmogonic maps to the geography of the human body, defining this confluence anthropo-morphic-cartography. The artist belongs to a generation that has experienced Brazilian dictatorship and the economic crisis, events that have decisively influenced the poetic and strongly political aspect of her work. Her research focuses on the investigation of cartographic representations and their implicit structural control and leads to works that inevitably reinforce the value of a marginal point of view. Her films are an instigation to transgression: Mapas Elementares No.3 (1976), for example, is a visual poem that alludes to the conditions and myths attributed to Latin American cultures, while the video Passagens II (1974) shows the artist intent on repeatedly climbing the stairs – from the domestic to the monumental ones of large public buildings -. The performance contains a clear allusion to the repetitiveness of female occupations, hinting at a possible transgression with the progressive approach to the centers of power.

Paloma Bosquê‘s research (Garça, 1982) is largely based on her daily practice in the studio. In this environment, she freely manages and associates materials that are not typical of sculpture, creating compositions of different sizes and scales. In the constant search for a possible and consensual balance between the selected elements, the artist often develops specific methods to combine, juxtapose and unite materials without ever forcing them to a definitive interaction. The presence of artifacts and handicraft products alludes to the relationship of her sculptures with the body, while organic materials and geometric shapes connect characters of the Brazilian neo-concrete movement with post-minimalist sensibility. The artist favors the physical presence of the objects she uses with respect to their potential symbolic value: by experimenting with the texture, the weight and the balance of materials, she creates an extremely delicate visual landscape that intrigues discouraging any punctual attempt at interpretation and reminding us of fragility certainties that support everything we consider permanent or definitive.

In Patricia Leite’s paintings (Belo Horizonte, 1955), which include new works on wood created specifically for the exhibition, the minimal bucolic depictions show a deviated perspective that makes the views of fleeting travels and videos almost naïve; these sources reveal personal experiences and tactile sensations.


Terra Trema
A collaboration with Mendes Wood DM
24 September – 30 November 2019
Thomas Dane Gallery
Via Francesco Crispi, 69 Napoli

Leticia Ramos, Não é difícil para um investigador da natureza simular os fenômenos, 2018, 16mm transferred to film 2K, audio 7 minutes Credit: © The artist. Courtesy of Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, Brussels, New York and Thomas Dane Gallery. Photo by Bruno Leão

Terra TremaSonia Gomes, Maria dos Anjos, 2017-2018, stitching, bindings, various fabrics, bindings variable dimensions Credit: © The artist. Courtesy of Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, Brussels, New York and Thomas Dane Gallery. Photo by Bruno Leão

Solange Pessoa, Sem título, 2013 soapstone, 64.5 x 53 x 103 cm. Credit: © The artist. Courtesy of Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, Brussels, New York and Thomas Dane Gallery. Photo by Bruno Leão

Anna Bella Geiger, Passagens II, 1974 video 5’50” edition 3 of 5 Credit: © The artist. Courtesy of Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, Brussels, New York and Thomas Dane Gallery. Photo by Bruno Leão

Paloma Bosquê, Arranjo cego – Ovo com torre | Blind Arrangement – Egg with tower, 2018, wood, beeswax with rosin
Credit: © The artist. Courtesy of Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, Brussels, New York and Thomas Dane Gallery. Photo by Bruno Leão

Piero Manai. The conscious sleepwalking of painting

Piero Manai (Bologna, 1951-1988) is one of the most enigmatic figures in contemporary painting, a solitary and tormented artist who, as Umberto Eco wrote in 1991, “after Giorgio Morandi was continuing the discourse of the great Bolognese painting”. He died at the age of 37 leaving an extraordinary body of works and the regret of not being able to see where his artistic discourse would have landed if he had had the opportunity to develop it further. In two decades of tireless research, the artist experimented with different figurative techniques – from drawing, to oil painting, to photography – initially orienting himself towards a hyper-realistic and pop figuration and then flowing into a restless gesture that led him to tear the image and to reproduce it in an almost sculptural sense.

The psychophysical tension of painting in the last period originates in an almost demonic conception of life and is influenced by the Central European expressionism which in those years emphasized corporeality as a vehicle of immediacy and intensity. The themes of trauma, sexuality and death meet here with a stubborn reflection on painting in order to create an impossible symbiosis between objectivity, individuality and abstraction. And it is precisely this lucid fixation which avoids irreversible dismemberment and dissolution in the depths of the unconscious in all his work, identifying a principle of original unity that makes the form survive the gestural mutilation. One could speak of his instinctive reliance on the tangibility and consistency of color, which flows on the canvas in a free pictorial flow but always ends up aggregating in dense volumetric allusions.

The galleries P420 and CAR DRDE, in collaboration with the heirs of Piero Manai, present a joint exhibition until November 9th, the most complete after the great retrospective curated at the former GAM of Bologna by Peter Weiermair in 2004, dedicated to the last ten years of the artist’s production. The double exhibition, chronological and thematic, sees the human figure as protagonist in the gallery of Alessandro Pasotti and Fabrizio Padovani and the still life in that of Davide Rosi. The comparison between the two figurative genres, the main ones on which the artist has concentrated, brings out the coherence of his approach in dealing with the same pictorial object that seems to obsessively repeat itself in two complementary appearances.

The selection of works exhibited at CAR DRDE highlights the transition from the still lifes of the early 1980s, infinite variations on the theme of the classic Caravaggesque fruit basket conceived as open and energetic pictorial structures identified by brushstrokes that draw contours and light reflections, to the apparently quieter paintings of recent years, which depict compositions of abstract solids, no longer directly related to the appearances of reality. Here the tension of the image, finding no outlet in the liberating gesture of the rapid and nervous brushstroke, translates into a retained potential, almost on the point of imploding. Painting becomes consistent and stratified, volumetric allusions translate into sensations of gravity and weight, emphasized by a wholly mental light that hypnotizes the observer. There is no story or temporality, solids impose themselves on the gaze as a material of representation that synthesizes visions, symbols and meanings. In particular, the solid ovals, extreme condensations of the fruit or stone, are at the same time ancestral heads and “weights”, those very peculiar burdens of Manai that all his creatures are destined to carry, while the basic parallelepipeds, his characteristic “monoliths” could be degenerated bodies, walled alive in painting.

These compositions are the most exciting link between the object and the body and lead us to the works on display at P420, which show the parallel evolution of the painter in the interpretation of the human figure. In chronological order, we start from the “flayed” of the early 1980s, which present man as a complicated frame of brushstrokes that summarize muscles, bones and existential conditions. Each character appears intent on his solitude, aggravated by the frequent presence of “doubles” that intensify his discomfort, in a mutual and desperate mirroring. At times only the head remains, deprived of physiognomic traits, that exhibits more eloquent disintegrations and deformations than any expressionism. The psychic substance results in labyrinthine tangles of brushstrokes that do not lead to any center and that sometimes flow outside the confines of the figure to spray the background.

Over the years this physical and mental complexity acquires a powerful monumentality, due both to the large dimensions of the canvases and to the thickening of the pictorial material in fused and substantial brushstrokes. The figure tries to protect itself, folds up and locks itself in until it even loses the most elementary grips of recognition and becomes a stone, a parallelepiped with rounded corners or a stele enigmatically surrounded by a neutral background. An intermediate phase of this transmutation could be identified in the oil on plastic series entitled Figure in the landscape (1987), in my opinion, the most moving sequence of the whole exhibition for its bare simplicity. In this succession of small-format paintings we see painful human shapes crouched in a fetal position suspended in the void like flowers, with the only support of a faint stem of pictorial matter expelled by an invisible orifice.

Manai considered his subjects as a kind of self-portraits seen from within, like anatomical and psychic constructions that “put a strain on the figure to reach a threshold”. In confirmation of this interpretation, in both galleries we find precious examples of Polaroids in which the artist, intervening on the film during the time of exposure or after the print with pictorial interventions, self-portrayed deforming his image in the intimacy of a solitary exhibitionism.


Piero Manai
27 September – 09 November 2019

Via Azzo Gardino 9 Bologna

Via Azzo Gardino 14/a Bologna

Piero Manai, exhibition view at CAR DRDE

Piero Manai, Natura morta, 1988, oil on paper mounted on canvas, 60×60 cm courtesy CAR DRDE

Piero ManaiPiero Manai, exhibition view at P420

Piero Manai, Testa, 1985, olio su carta intelata/oil on paper mounted on canvas, cm.75×105 courtesy P420

Piero Manai, exhibition view at P420

Other Spaces by United Visual Artists

The Store X The Vinyl Factory and Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain present Other Spaces, a solo show of the British art-collective United Visual Artists, founded in 2003 by the artist Matt Clark who, since the early stages of his career, introduced an innovative vision that is aimed at exploring the potential that exists between art, science, and modern technologies. This experimental approach led the artists to various collaborations with musicians such as Massive Attack and James Blake, choreographers such as Benjamin Millepied, and fashion designers such as Christopher Bailey with whom the artists conceived the 2018 Burberry’s fashion show. At 180 The Strand, the exhibition Other Spaces celebrates 15 years of artistic career and confirms the pioneering role that UVA has played over the years in recognizing the potential of new media in a climate that, according to the founder, is characterized by ‘a period of rapid technological and ecological transformation’.

Interested in the immersive and multi-sensory dimension of the artistic experience, UVA conceive the exhibition according to three different immersive situations wherein the viewer is invited to rethink the perception of space and time according to an absolute synthesis of elements such as light and sound which have always defined the stylistic trait of the art-collective. Three multimedia installations, rigorously presented in a sequence of dark spaces, outline here the quintessence of a new architecture of thought that dwells on the physicality and the performativity of the artistic experience by reflecting on time, motion, and the milieu through a series of multimedia environments.

By traversing the exhibitive paths of the exhibition, the show opens with a quote from the historical installation Momentum, presented at the Curve Gallery of the Barbican Centre in 2013, and here revisited in the context of the immersive environment Our Time, 2019. Composed of a single sculptural armour and further articulated through a series of mechanical arms, the installation simultaneously projects beams of light and sound waves, designed by the sound designer Mira Calix. In line with the kinetic tradition, rethought through an immersive scale, the installation Our Time reflects a new perception and a new dimension for the categories of space and time contemporaneously to modern physics and scientific discoveries. This is made evident here by digital and electronic media to emphasise the immersive dimension of their practice in relation to the viewer’s experience.

The installation Vanishing Point 3: 1, 2019, further elaborates on this perceptive estrangement by rethinking the perspectival laws by Leon Battista Alberti through a shift of focus that is no longer aimed at configuring an objective representation of the world, but turns towards the viewer to design an immersive experience. Here, from a reflective surface, UVA focus on a vanishing point that projects a drawing of light composing a series of modular geometries that are repeated in a scale of multiples. In this sense, the sophisticated technology of Vanishing Point reveals an image and an experience of light and sound which are rendered in function of the spectator to suggest a vitalist experience of enactment.

The sequence of immersive landscapes culminates with the installation The Great Animal Orchestra, presented at the Triennale this year in Milan, originally commissioned by the Foundation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain for a homonymous exhibition in Paris in 2016, and here at its London premiere. Conceived as a collaboration between United Visual Artists and the American bioacoustic researcher and musician Bernie Krause, who coined the term bio-sphere, the installation consists of a graphic representation of light and sound’s  environments wherein one can explore the soundscape of a number of natural habitats which have remained invisible to the most. Based on a collection of over 5,000 hours of audio recordings of over 15,000 animal and natural species, The Great Animal Orchestra articulates the synthesis of visual and aural components and emphasizes the need of formulating a poetic that beyond the logic of man, could re-evaluate the potential of an ecological context.

In its minimalist synthesis and its immersive complexity, Other Spaces is an invitation to transcend the limits of perception to encounter the invisible, bringing us back to an affective dimension of experience wherein humans can find themselves as part of an artistic, scientific, and technological evolution. The juxtaposition of visual and sonorous experiences is an artistic trait that one can find again in the catalogue publication which includes the vinyl version of the recordings of The Great Animal Orchestra, made possible through the support of The Store X The Vinyl Factory and Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain.


Other Spaces by United Visual Artists
2 October – 8 December 2019
The Store X The Vinyl Factory e Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain
180 The Strand, London

UVA, Our Time, Store X, courtesy the artists, The Store X The Vynyl Factory, Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain

UVA, Vanishing Point, Store X, courtesy the artists, The Store X The Vynyl Factory, Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain

UVA, Vanishing Point, Store X, courtesy the artists, The Store X The Vynyl Factory, Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain

Other SpacesUVA, The Great Animal Orchestra, Store X, courtesy the artists, The Store X The Vynyl Factory, Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain

Glimpses. David Maljković’s alterations in Brescia

David Maljković‘s third solo show at Massimo Minini Gallery in Brescia, Glimpses, marks the renewal of a consolidated relationship between the artist and the exhibition space. The previous Retired Forms (2010) and With the Gallery (2015) had been occasions to present a research made up of collages, video installations, everyday objects absorbed in a personal discourse, often steeped in references to the post-war history of Croatia, where Maljković was born in 1973; at the same time, similarly, the halls of the gallery in Brescia transmuted with scenographic mise-en-place: blue curtains and theatrical backdrops for Retired Forms, mid-air lofts in With the Gallery. In the wake of these experiences, Glimpses presents itself as a sort of balance sheet on the work already done and on its potential amplification of meaning, paying attention to the last results of a research in constant evolution.

The proposed works, scattered with an essential set-up this time in which the white of the walls dominates, are re-elaborations of elements that Maljković makes his own with a transformative process. Variable is the material on which he chooses to intervene. It may be his work, or an evocative find of the Yugoslav past, or even furnishings in the gallery itself. In such heterogeneity, the common thread that unites the works is the use of epoxy resin. Grafted in the form of a reactant, now colored, now transparent, this viscous mixture englobes, drips, stains, covers, and then solidifies and crystallizes the objects in the static nature of a pose. Here then follow, immobilized by the hardened resin, aluminum sheets, display cases, Boby office trolleys by Joe Colombo, wall displays and even the fragment of the ceiling of a neglected Croatian grand hotel. Aided by the repeated combination with plexiglass plates, a material that in turn suggests an idea of ​​fixity and conservation, the works on display evoke fossil and hieratic presences, changes of state, stratifications that have occurred in multiple temporal phases.

Through his sculptural assemblages, wrapped in a procession silence, Maljković stages an open and self-referential method. There is a clear-cut stance, that of appropriating – or, as the case may be, re-appropriating – of finite forms to make them return to itself, inducing a mutation that the artist conveys according to his own subjectivity. Thus a new vital circle is generated, with objects that undergo unforeseen alterations and are set in motion in the flow of time and things. The effect is that of an alienating suspension, in which one feels the cyclical nature of change and a precarious calm. In the fleetingness, however, there remain those “glimpses” suggested by the title of the exhibition, or metaphors of small flashes, brief appearances as a twinkle that suggest future developments. And it is in this glimpse beyond the permanence that the author seems to indicate us other possibilities, vague traces of something that has been and that we still do not know how it will evolve.

Andrea Zaniboni


David Maljković. Glimpses
21 September – 31 October 2019
Galleria Massimo Minini
Via Apollonio 68, Brescia

David Maljkovic, Glimpses, Exhibition View. Photo Alessandro Zambianchi

For all the images: David Maljkovic, Glimpses, Exhibition View. Photo Alessandro Zambianchi courtesy Galleria Massimo Minini

Jacopo Mazzonelli feat Giulio Paolini. The silent observation of sound

For the reopening of the exhibition season, the Studio G7 gallery stages an unusual duet, the one between the visual artist and performer Jacopo Mazzonelli (Trento, 1983) and the master of Arte Povera Giulio Paolini (Genoa, 1940), guest of honor and ideal mentor of the research of the youngest colleague. The Isorhythm exhibition, whose title recalls a particular technique of musical composition in vogue between 1300 and 1400 that provided for the repetition of the same rhythmic figure in the different motet movements, reflects on the possible correspondences and translations that pass between different artistic languages ​​and on the surplus of meaning generated by these hybridizations.

The scenographic fulcrum of the installation, the immobile engine of its conceptual architecture, is Sottosopra, a work that Paolini created in 2005 for an exhibition in La Spezia curated by Bruno Corà in which he was side by side with Castellani and Melotti, artists already accustomed to attending the musical theme. For the master of Turin, instead, it is a first (and only) time: the musical subject is re-shaped by him through his typical theatrical and structural approach, which analyzes the place and time of representation. Faced with an essential scene in which light pencil strokes drawn directly on the wall allude to a perspective grid, we find two lecterns superimposed in a fragile way, only through the complementarity of their forms. Entangled in the structure and juxtaposed to the wall, we see small fragments of paper sheets, whose impossible recomposition would allow us to read the parallel anecdotes of Verrocchio and Rossini, who decided to interrupt their respective careers when they realized to have been outclassed by the talent of Leonardo and Wagner. These explicit passages of deliveries from one generation to the next confirm Paolini’s conception of the autonomy of art, seen as a self-sufficient and inexorable evolutionary process of which artists become interpreters over time.

If Paolini’s complex work through procedures of fragmentation, quotation and duplication, explores the conceptual implications of the tools of a never explicit representation, which is only evoked by enigmatic traces, Jacopo Mazzonelli focuses his research on the analysis of music by deconstructing, transforming and recomposing sound objects and musical instruments deprived of their institutional function. It is a silent reflection on how sound can cross multiple aesthetic and scientific parameters to arrive at manifestation as image, weight, shape, gravity or silent formula without losing its engaging appeal. Like Paolini, Mazzonelli, who at a certain point in his life abandons his piano and composition studies to devote himself to the visual arts, establishes an ambiguous relationship with the objects of his investigation, which are transformed by his interventions into pure language.

The young artist aims first of all at the oxymoric challenge of giving visual evidence and infinite duration to the transitory incorporeality of sound, placing himself in a lateral observation point that allows him to identify new possibilities of relationship between elements that at first sight seems reduced to a minimum terms. The Aural series (2019), for example, composed of concrete reproductions of sound-absorbing panels used to break the sound and reflect it in different directions, looks like a catalog of conceptual modules whose inclinations and divergences suggest the visual paths of the sound trajectories that are intended to face. Cement for Mazzonelli is an archetypal material, an expression of power and a symbol of anthropized contemporaneity; in his work it recurs as an envelope and imposition that obliges the objects that it encloses to vibrate in another way, without however being heavy for the look. This aspect is particularly evident in Volume (2019), a heraldic trumpet walled into a concrete parallelepiped that seems to emphasize rather than mortify the potential arrogance of sound materializing it in a peremptory physical element.

In Soundwaves (2019), instead, the artist makes visible the expression of the equation of D’Alembert, a French scientist who mathematically described the propagation motion of sound waves, luminous and tides, demonstrating how sound also behaves like a matter subject to the rules of physics, despite its emblematically ethereal and elusive nature. Against the ultramarine background of a cardboard, taken from a Victorian album of photographs, two guitar strings embroider a mathematical formula that reminds us that nothing in reality is messy and random, not even what our senses do not allow us to perceive . The wonderful correspondences between shapes and functions of natural and artisanal objects make the reading of Stereofonia (2019) intuitive, a small work made with overlapping perforated cardboard, which stands as a pendant with respect to Aural. The slightly out of phase stratification of the planes generates two converging lamellar tunnels that recall the human auricles, but also the harmonic casing that determines the timbre and intensity of a string or percussion instrument. Once again the sound “appears” and its form can be perceived negatively with respect to the devices designed to accept it, generate it or reject it.

Mazzonelli analyzes the status of sound and music without ever making them; his strategy is to put in place subtle misdirections that confuse appearances to reveal the unforeseeable implications of what might seem to be hastily obvious. Thus, not without irony, the circular path of the exhibition ends with an improperly orchestral device: Pendulum music (2019), a mobile installation consisting of an array of cardboard boxes, originally packaging of rolls for mechanical pianola, containing random metal pendulums ripple that, striking the wall, produce an imperceptible background noise, the sound of a subjective time to which everyone can choose to synchronize.

Isorhythm, an exhibition of encounters between generations, affections and counterpoints, is a project conceived by Ginevra Grigolo, historical founder of Studio G7 who passed away last September, who entrusts the legacy and future of her beloved gallery to the young Giulia Biafiore.


Jacopo Mazzonelli | Giulio Paolini. Isorhythm
curated by Bettina Della Casa
28 September – 23 November 2019
Galleria Studio G7
Via Val D’Aposa 4A Bologna

Giulio Paolini, Sottosopra, 2005, lecterns, torn autograph writings, pencil and collage on the wall, environmental dimension

Jacopo Mazzonelli | Giulio Paolini. IsorhythmJacopo Mazzonelli | Giulio Paolini. Isorhythm installation view at Studio G7

Jacopo Mazzonelli | Giulio Paolini. Isorhythm installation view at Studio G7

Jacopo Mazzonelli | Giulio Paolini. Isorhythm installation view at Studio G7

Jacopo Mazzonelli | Giulio Paolini. Isorhythm installation view at Studio G7

Sublimed complexity: Brancusi in Brussels

Brancusi. Sublimation of form, at BOZAR, pays homage to the Romanian-born French sculptor. Since last retrospective show on his work, at Centre Pompidou in Paris, it is the first European exhibition of its kind, after twenty-five years. It is also the biggest Belgian show on his poetics. The exhibition is also part of a festival: Europalia. Dedicated to the cultures of the European Union, the 2019 edition focuses on Romanian arts and history. Several events will take place in Brussels, as well as in different Belgian locations.

Within the art-déco rooms of the museum, BOZAR highlights a career in a chronological, as well as thematic order. The red thread of the show ties together sculpture, video, photography and works on paper. Born in 1876, Brancusi will see a large part of twentieth century, both as a spectator and actor. He will take part in artistic innovations, legal battles, and successful exhibitions, marking the history of modern sculpture. Of humble origins, the sculptor will study in his home country, at the School of Arts and Crafts of Craiova, and at the Academy of Fine Arts, in Bucharest. One of his earliest work is a manifesto: a reinterpretation of an art-historical subject, his écorché (anatomic figure study) seems to predict the sublimed forms of the artistic maturity. Having relocated to Paris, in 1904, the artist will work for successful sculptors of the time. In the exhibition, the comparison with pieces by Antonin Mercié and Auguste Rodin, for whom he will work as an assistant, is historical analogy, more than stylistic proximity: “nothing grows in the shade of tall trees”, he will say. He will then start working exclusively on his own. One of his most acclaimed achievement is the “direct carving” technique, experimented since 1907. It is the reject of any preconceived sculptural model, and the artist will start working matter directly.

In Avant-gardist Paris, the artist’s studio will become a meeting point for the local and international intellectuality. Many photographers, Man Ray among others, will portray popular characters of the time, like artists, dancers and collectors, next to the sculptor’s pieces. Soon after his first meeting with the photographic medium, thanks to Man Ray, however, the sculptor will want to be the only photographer of his pieces, as well as of the visitors in his studio. His photos will be the outcomes of his research on forms and light: a medium complementary to sculpture. His three-dimensional pieces, like mirrors that distort the reality around them, either augment or absorb light emissions. Similarly, Brancusi’s photography captures a natural, ephemeral phenomenon. The artwork is eventually portrayed as an amplifier of such phenomenon, the movement of light in space.

The exhibition features, next to the works of the early part of his career, also different series: the Muses, the Birds (Maiastra, Bird in Space), and the Torsos. The museum has also commissioned new performances, which will take place in the exhibition space, by Anne Theresa de Kraesmaeker, Manuel Pelmus, and other international artists. Overall, the retrospective show provides new key of understanding contemporary art. In the art world of today, Brancusi’s heritage, both ancient and futuristic, seems to still speak loudly in a clear, living language.

Elio Ticca


Brancusi. Sublimation of forms
5th october – 30th november 2019
Opening time: Tue – Sun, 10 am – 6 pm | Thu, 10 am – 9 pm | closed on Monday
Centre for Fine Arts – Rue Ravensteinstraat 23, 1000 Brussels

BOZAR Brancusi Constantin, Prométhée, 1911 © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist.RMN-Grand Palais – Adam Rzepka, Sabam Belgium, 2019

BrancusiBOZAR Brancusi Constantin, Autoportrait dans l’atelier les Colonnes sans fin I à IV, Le Poisson (1930), Léda (1926), +- 1934 © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist.RMN-Grand Palais – Philippe Migeat, Sabam Belgium 2019

BOZAR Brancusi Constantin, Léda, 1926 © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist.RMN-Grand Palais – Adam Rzepka, Sabam Belgium, 2019

BOZAR Brancusi Constantin, Muse endormie, 1910 © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist.RMN-Grand Palais – Adam Rzepka, Sabam Belgium, 2019