Crisis, loss and rediscovery: Matteo Messori’...

Crisis, loss and rediscovery: Matteo Messori’s “ROOF” experience

“I thought I couldn’t live without him but now I know I can and that he would be proud of it. This is the only thing I’ve always wanted”[1].

I had the pleasure of re-knowing and rediscovering Matteo Messori and his search not so long ago, many years after the period of the unsuspecting and fleeting glances exchanged in the chaotic corridors of the Toschi Institute of Art in Parma. Therefore, you could not in the least imagine the immense pleasure felt – both for knowledge of the facts, and above all for harmony – in seeing the progress of a former schoolmate and observing his human and artistic maturation, rediscovering a friend. This rapprochement has led us, moreover, to work together on one of his most recent projects: Blueline.

Matteo’s work has always struck me for the strong emphasis placed on the dimension of experience and the ephemeral anatomy of the human being that springs from it, both through the Antiforma series, conveyed mainly through painting, and Formastante, conveyed through sculpture and installation.

From the experiences of the artist’s life, form and matter are constantly regenerated and transformed to shape new physiognomies that sometimes reflect hope, sometimes presence and elements of life, sometimes moments of disorientation, lack and profound crisis. The latter is precisely the case of the artist’s latest solo exhibition, ROOF, curated by Nicola Bigliardi at the Parmeggiani Gallery of the Civic Museums in Reggio Emilia, which has just ended.

Starting from the concept of “crisis of presence” – elaborated for the first time by the anthropologist Ernesto De Martino in Il Mondo Magico (1948) – as a “state of disorientation as a consequence of unexpected and often painful events[2]“, Messori showed us a path exploration of the self and both personal and artistic transition. In the light of a tragic event such as the recent death of his father – translated into the moving homage entitled Ultimo Fiato (2021) – the artist observes, interprets and transforms with a touching clarity and sensitivity the forms and elements that have characterized his research.

An example is the case of Self-portrait (2020), a series of broken tiles crossed by a blue line, originally designed to be arranged in a square[3], but which in this case are set up according to a new physiognomy, just like in Roof (2019), in which a stack of painted tiles is in this case broken, destroyed, or as in Lunar tapestry (2020), in which a painted denim canvas hangs placed inside a wooden box for the tomato harvest, evocative of the memory of the family. The works on display are all clear expressions of the crisis, of the strong disorientation that crosses the gallery spaces according to various measures and various interpretations.

Life animated by breath, the interpretation of its loss and the renewal that flows from it reminded me of the novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close written in 2005 by Jonathan Safran Foer and adapted into a film in 2011 by Stephen Daldry. The novel tells the story of little Oskar who loses his father, with whom he had a special relationship of complicity, in the attacks on 11 September 2001. Following that tragedy, the child comes across an object left by his father, which will lead him to complete a path, both external and internal, in search of a contact, of a last sign on the part of the parent. At the end of the path Oskar will come to accept his mourning, finding himself from new points of view, to which the re-elaboration of the loss has decisively contributed.

Guido Grignaffini

[1] Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Ugo Guanda Editore
[2] Ernesto De Martino, La fine del mondo, Giulio Einaudi Editore
[3] The reference is to Status, 2020, a personal exhibition by Matteo Messori, curated by Maria Letizia Paiato, set up at Nerola Factory, Pescara


ROOF, Matteo Messori
curated by Nicola Bigliardi
Galleria Parmeggiani dei Musei Civici, Reggio Emilia
11/12/2021 – 27/02/2022

Cover image: Matteo Messori, Last breath (2022), oil on fabric, variable measures. Photo credits Adam Speziale, courtesy the artist

Matteo Messori, Self-portrait, 2020. Enamel on tile, 80 x 96 cm. Courtesy the artist, ph Adam Speziale

Matteo Messori, Lunar tapestry, 2020. Plaster and enamel on denim, variable sizes. Courtesy the artist, ph Adam Speziale


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