In 1917, the American writer Mary MacLane published her last autobiographical volume. Among the fragments of words that succeed each other like a flux of consciousness, the body is described as holder of oxymoronic symbols: it is familiar yet mysterious, separate and individual, fragile and healthy – like a book of poems that should be read over and over again. From this vision emerges how the body is a capturer of forces and a collector of the inestimable vital breath that keeps us alive, yet also an instrument of identity verification towards the world, placing itself in that interstice between physicality, devoid of inhibitory brakes, and what surrounds it. It is precisely from these ideas that the exhibition entitled Between my flesh and the world’s fingers, a paraphrase of a dedicated documentary by the above-mentioned American writer, with artworks by Grgur Akrap, Loren Erdrich, Katarina Janeckova, Jay Miriam and Marlon Wobst, on schedule at the Richter Fine Art gallery in Rome until 24 January 2022.
Although the transitive levels of the artists on show are different, the common generative matrix is the imperfect nature that animates the body. In particular, the exhibition project appears explanatory of a theory according to which the mystery of the creative spirit that resides in the artist is revealed in the libidinal-corporeal opacity, which becomes one with the sensory processes, anchoring these in the flesh of the world. It is evident that according to this unusual vision, the work becomes a route of contrast, such that it is a product far from the harmonious stillness, penetrating instead into the truest human outpost, where words can no longer be expressed. This approach brings to mind the words of the insurrectionary writer Henry Miller, who hoped that the world would become more capable of «overturning established values, to the point of making order out of the chaos that surrounds him, in order to sow ferment and discord». These ideas and thoughts can be partly traced in the intense text accompanying the exhibition, written by the philosopher Giuseppe Armogida, from which emerges the point of a group of artists who have managed to «capture and translate into images […] the silence that the world murmurs, that the common thinking prefers to ignore, and that they, instead, listen to».
With a visionary figuration, based on the aesthetics of shock as an alienating process on images, the works in the exhibition by Grgur Akrap (Zagreb, 1988) are characterized by a narrative vein full of symbolism. The figures portrayed in mysterious situations seem to stem from a latent daydream, so much so that they are deliberately imperfect with incomplete parts on the raw canvas and characterized by fragments of pure and impure color, together with chromatic notations that in some cases divide and in others unite spaces. All this provides reason to consider the artist as possessing a spiritus phantasticus whose pneuma is in the tool for the imagination of dreams and nightmares. Faces in close-up with vertiginous metaphysical zooms, strange winged creatures that swoop down on the stepmotherly nature or inexplicable group actions – in all cases the paintings are initiatory phenomena of an artist who fights with his own demons and whose pictorial language indicates lacerations of a subjective emergency.
The idea that the body can be measured, tasted in its physicality is eluded in the works by Loren Erdrich (New York, 1978), so the metrocorpus unravels, overcoming physical boundaries, returning an amplified, dispersed corporeity, rumbling endlessly. In Erdrich’s works, the Ego-skin disintegrates without ever losing its essence, breaking down and liquefying. This representation originates from a working method in which raw pigments and colors are directly mixed with water on the canvas. This way, the images emerge around the knot of color like capillary jolts, from which watery and sincere glances emerge like a confession.
The artworks on show by Katarina Janeckova (Bratislava, 1988) are capable of a fierce and passionate quest for love towards her own body. Janeckova’s painting reveals a disarming energy, so that the body becomes the vehicle for a mapping of specific signs, such as phalluses and turgid breasts that spill motherly milk. The nature that animates the artist’s work lies in the mystery of her own femininity, sublimated to pleasure and deprived of its enigmatic value – a frank but also affabulatory exhibition, in other words, that does not diverge from the vision of the aforementioned Mary MacLane, especially when she effectively states «I love my body, how it lives, breathes and moves, I love my body as a woman for its sexual complexity». The works are also vividly autobiographical, with characters wearing typical cowboy boots in reference to the traditions of Texas, where the artist currently lives and works. All this is expressed in a painting with a distinctive style, without precedent or successor, deliberately mellow, full-bodied and bituminous and blinding in its expressive vitality, mediately structured in the artist’s imaginative fantasy, which leaves the visitor astonished and fascinated.
On the other hand, the artworks by Jay Miriam (New York, 1990) move away from the libidinal language of the talking body – she experiences art as a framework of modelling energies, murmuring stories of the human being. This way, painting is a useful tool for exploring spatial activity: the figures placed in their context are opened up and crushed as if compressed between powerful hammers, until they assume geometric proportions, a characteristic feature of the artist. In the only piece on show, a movement of the figure emerges as a partition of a rhythm, so as to pose as an image: a sort of vortex, a radiant node, a visual cluster in which the torsions and tension of an emotional body precipitate. Thus, the character is inserted into a spatiality based on a curvilinear system, which in some cases is characterized by broken and crooked lines and in whose background different points of view are sutured. This particular visual strategy of a splintered and exploded space is expressed in a two-dimensional perspective that absorbs the protagonist, so that she is always the main axis of the decomposition, here defined by broad brushstrokes and whose contour acts as an isolating element.
Lastly, the artworks by Marlon Wobst (Wiesbaden, Germany, 1980) derive from an attitude based on the dictates of an ironic strategy towards reality, stemming from an intimate awareness to consider human life as humorous parody. The figures with their sculptural corporeity, floating in the white magic of fascination, stand out as metaphorical monolithic and dazzling appearances, enclosing their representative power in the gesture, which takes on a strongly ironic character to the point of being derisory of the obsessions of contemporary human being. Furthermore, Wobst’s works arise from perception, so that in the works there is a tactile-optical space that establishes relations between the body of the figure and the touch of the spectator, as a work with a felted wool support, scattered with falling body silhouettes, is on display.
It is not surprising that these approaches have touched on a similar degree of otherness whose overall strength lies in the acute reflection of a painting that reasons on the value of the body as a living, cunning, ardent material that sows brightness even in its imperfection. This is how Mary Mc Lane’s words echo limpidly, according to whom the body is composed of organs like eternal hopes, smooth skins like emotions and drops of blood sparkling like thoughts. Yes, thoughts of an artistry embodied in the fingers of the world and whose figures, if they do not express the whispers of the mind, are twice dead.
Maria Vittoria Pinotti
 Mary MacLane, I, Mary MacLane: A Diary of Human Days, (1917), Good Press, 2019, pp. 5-6
 Guido Bartorelli, Lo sguardo opaco: dall’image di Ezra Pound alla visione di Stan Brakhage, in Il corpo parlante. Contaminazioni e slittamenti tra psicoanalisi, cinema, multimedialità e arti visive, curated by Guido Bartorelli, Giovanni Bianchi, Rosamaria Salvatore and Federica Stevanin, Quodlibet Studio, Scienze della cultura, 2021, p. 320
 Henry Miller, Tropico del cancro, (1934), Feltrinelli, 2013, p. 211
 Enrico Pitozzi, Decostruire l’immagine del corpo: figure della contemporaneità, in Il corpo parlante. Contaminazioni e slittamenti tra psicoanalisi, cinema, multimedialità e arti visive, curated by Guido Bartorelli, Giovanni Bianchi, Rosamaria Salvatore and Federica Stevanin, Quodlibet Studio, Scienze della cultura, 2021, p. 59
 Giorgio Agamben, Stanze, La parola e il fantasma nella cultura occidentale, Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi, 2011, p.109
 Giorgio Cipolletta, Metrocorpo: una metrica del corpo fuori misura, in Il corpo parlante. Contaminazioni e slittamenti tra psicoanalisi, cinema, multimedialità e arti visive, curated by Guido Bartorelli, Giovanni Bianchi, Rosamaria Salvatore and Federica Stevanin, Quodlibet Studio, Scienze della cultura, 2021, pp. 267-269
 Mary MacLane, Work cited., p. 6
 Guido Bartorelli, Work cited., p. 325
 Jean Baudrillard, Le strategie fatali, SE edizioni, testi e documenti, 2007, p. 67
 Mary MacLane, Work cited., p. 6
Between my flesh and the world’s fingers | Grgur Akrap, Loren Erdrich, Katarina Janeckova, Jay Miriam, Marlon Wobst
Galleria Richter Fine Art, Vicolo del Curato, 3, 00186, Roma
14 December 2021 – 24 January 2022
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 15pm to 19pm, or by appointment
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Richter Fine Art, Between my flesh and the world’s fingers, installation view, Photo Credits Giorgio Benni, courtesy the Gallery
Grgur Akrap, Boy with a golden fish, 55 x 65 cm, oil painting on canvas, Ph. Credit Giorgio Benni, courtesy Richter Fine Art
Katarina Janeckova, Untitled, acrylic painting on canvas, 2021, 50 x 40cm, Ph. Credit Giorgio Benni, courtesy Richter Fine Art
Loren Erdrich, Leak, mixed media on canvas, 40 x 48 cm, 2020, Ph. Credit Giorgio Benni, courtesy Richter Fine Art
Marlon Wobst, Selfie, oil painting on canvas, 60 x 50 cm, Ph. Credit Giorgio Benni, courtesy Richter Fine Art
Maria Vittoria Pinotti (San Benedetto del Tronto, Marche, Italy, 1986) is an art historian. She writes for art magazines focusing on new ways to narrate works of art. Since 2016 she has been working as Gallery Manager in a contemporary art gallery in the historic center of Rome, she also has collaborated with ministerial offices in the cultural sector.