Past / Present in Lugano

Past / Present, the new exhibition with which Michela Negrini continues the exhibition season of her gallery in Lugano, brings together works that, with their references, extend beyond the usual boundaries of images, and stems from a reflection on this particular “frozen” that we are experiencing due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ultimately, the exhibition explores, through the work by four artists (Elisabetta Benassi, Italy; Liliana Moro, Italy; Melik Ohanian, France; Namsal Siedlecki, Italy / USA), the many implications of the experience of time, its essence and of its perception.

Through the recovery and transformation of materials and symbols, Elisabetta Benassi critically observes the often controversial cultural, political and artistic heritage of our times, questioning the condition and identity of the present. On display Atlas Shrugged, an artwork from 2018 that is part of the exploration of a world in which the idea of ​​community has disappeared to make “the sovereign individual” reign. Here, the notions of “self-ownership” and the “absolute sovereignty” of the individual over himself and in relation to the social world are central, touching upon the myth-themes of neoliberalism and the most unbridled and pretentious subjective freedom.

Also on display unpublished works by Liliana Moro: large white ceramic sculptures in the shape of a pomegranate. Primitive symbol of the death-life cycle, of the continuum on which our existence is based, the fruit represents its vital energy and the wish for fertility. In recent years, ceramics have often returned to Liliana Moro’s work, also to create shapes taken from the natural world, such as fruit. Like Italo Calvino’s American Lessons, Liliana Moro also proceeds by “weight loss”, lightening the fruit, digging into its past and blocking it in a present, powerless time, in which only the relationship with our gaze can project it into the future.

Melik Ohanian‘s artistic research has always investigated the world of the image and its allegorical power, so much so that the spatial and temporal dimensions can be identified as central nodes of all his poetics. On display new works from the Tomorrow Was series. With no indications of time or space, this series ponders a possible tomorrow. These are photographs that do not intend to capture a precise moment: the intention is instead to speculate in a reflective way on the personal narrative of each individual spectator who, when faced with these fragments of life, will be led to anticipate their own relationship with the world. Also on display are works from the Portrait of Duration – Cesium Series, a work that presents the transitions from the solid to the liquid state of Cesium 133. Melik Ohanian thus investigates the observation and representation of the measurement of time, and in particular of its unity reference: the second. Although time remains a relative and abstract concept, these images constitute “a portrait of it through the representation of the matter that defines it” in a sort of “photographic tautology”: instead of indicating or measuring time, they show it to us.

The ex-votos have represented since the Paleolithic an element of connection with the divine, to which man turns in search of strength and comfort. This ancient form of prayer, in which the presence of human figures predominates, is brought on display by Namsal Siedlecki with a silver sculpture born from some 3D scans that the artist created in France in 2019, in Clermont Ferrand, in whose votive water wells in the 1960s a series of archaeological finds dating back to 50 BC were found: ex-votos carved in beech wood and thrown into the water as an offering to a deity of the Gauls, Maponos. The silver for the casting was recovered, however, from the coins thrown by various tourists and visitors into the Trevi Fountain. In the fountain (immortalized in the film “La dolce vita” by Fellini, and with intentional and amusing blunders, also in “Totò Truffa”), approximately two million euros of coins are thrown every year, of which 8% for various reasons cannot be changed. The artist, fascinated by this set of desires, trapped in a sort of limbo almost as if they hadn’t come true, bought about 500 kg. In this way Siedlecki dwells on the idea that in over 2000 years humanity continues to repeat the specific ritual of throwing something into the water in search of supernatural help. These two desires from two distant eras, both linked to water, come together here in a single enhanced desire within the liquid of a galvanic tank.

Four authors, four proposals, all aimed at a thought about the past to make us look to the future with hope.

Bruno Sain


Past/ Present
Artists: Elisabetta Benassi, Liliana Moro, Melik Ohanian, Namsal Siedlecki
20/05/2021 – 10/09/2021
preview: 19/05/2021
Galleria Michela Negrini
via Dufour 1
6900 Lugano (CH)
tel. 0041 91 9211717

Elisabetta Benassi, Atlas Shrugged, 2018 - 2021. Libro, foglia di palma artificiale in polipropilene e acciaio, 24 x 16,5 x 177 cm. Ed. 3 + 1 AP. Courtesy l’Artista, Magazzino, Roma e Galleria Michela NegriniElisabetta Benassi, Atlas Shrugged, 2018 – 2021. Book, artificial palm leaf in polypropylene and steel, 24 x 16,5 x 177 cm. Ed. 3 + 1 AP. Courtesy the Artist, Magazzino, Roma e Galleria Michela Negrini

Liliana Moro, Still life, 2020. Engobed refractory clay, terracotta, ø 40 cm, single edition. Courtesy the Artist, Galleria De Foscherari and Galleria Michela Negrini

Namsal Siedlecki, Trevis Maponos, 2020, silver, 75 x 19 x 5 cm, single edition. Courtesy the Artist, Magazzino, Roma and Galleria Michela Negrini


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