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119. ADRIANO VALERI

MARGINAL LANDSCAPES

Acid colors and settings between real and unreal, or better still surreal. Places that are imaginary and experienced at the same time, which come from a dreamy dimension and from the daily life. Adriano Valeri’s painting is absolutely expressive and communicative. His work speaks in a clear way, despite the incomplete references to the dimensions that only partially intend to express something certain.

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Adriano Valeri, Dogs of the Sinai, 2015, drawing, collage and acrylic painting on paper, 22x29 cm. Courtesy the artist and Galleria Marcolini, Forlì.


Born in Milano in 1987, but since many years relocated in New York, Adriano Valeri has experimented several mediums before hearing the pictorial as the most suitable to his artistic sensibility. The genesis of his work comes from a direct comparison with the space, from long walks, excursions and a lot of time spent lonely in nature. Moreover it is probably related with the need that as a child led him to copy the naturalistic images found in natural history books.
Adriano Valeri proposes the scrap materials of the urban life that he founds into temporary and marginal landscapes, more interesting because outside the usual narratives. His purpose is not to respond to the ecological call and at the same time he isn’t interested in the idea of nature like something that we must love or save. Rather, the subtle hint that the artist does, call to mind the critical readings of Pier Paolo Pasolini and his harsh criticism to the corruptions and the immorality of the contemporary society. An interpretations which is more political and interested to reflect on those life conditions “on the border”. A point of view that is at the same time able to underline and to find out the presence of a great ferment and a great energy even where apparently everything seems to be abandoned and compromised.
In this sense, the decision to employ provocative colors, clear shapes, intentionally out of focus, evokes a suspended dimension, which is typical of adolescents and poor people: the main protagonists who daily live and inhabit these places and conditions.

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In order: Adriano Valeri, The Florida Room, 2015, oil on canvas, 160x140cm; Air Handlers, 2015, oil on canvas, 140x160 cm; Araucarie, 2014, oil on canvas, 220x180 cm. Courtesy the artist and Galleria Marcolini, Forlì


“Among the things that fascinate me most there is painting and the observation of the natural world. For me the two activities are by now deeply complementary, rather I feel them absolutely essentials.
With this, I do not mean a therapeutic activity but I think that for most part of painters, to paint is a specific way to replenish the experiences that elude verbalization. It is the possibility to translate, to fix and to reexamine them out of the language context. In this sense, when I look at the landscape, I personally feel the necessity to investigate it in a pictorial way, not with the intent to make a celebration of the landscape or to describe it in a faithfully way, but to build new images that can be useful to fix it and to relive it again”.

 

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In order: Adriano Valery, Memory Disc, 2016, oil on canvas, 140 cm d.; Yours Truly, 2016, oil on canvas, 140 cm d.; Rubberneckers, 2017, oil on canvas, 140 cm d.; Memory Disc, 2016, oil on canvas, 140 cm d.; courtesy the artist and Galleria Marcolini, Forlì


"If we consider the landscape as a matrix that records the action of all the forces acting: biological, meteorological, human, then the marginal spaces become very significant, our waste speak of our material culture, thermal systems and fans speak of our bodies, how technology affects our place’s experiences. When I depict cans, plastic bags, dirty handkerchiefs, tube of pipes, food packaging and electric cables, I focus on all that materials that are placed on the edge of our lives and which are always present whether we like it or not. The colors I choose reflect a sense of alienation and urgency but they are also the colors of the signage, the energy drinks and the leaflets of a very hot place, such as the asphalt under the August sun.
The best justification I can give of my 'painting activity’ is to produce a testimony of the Earth as we live it in this historical moment, knotting the ancient and seemingly eternal forces of nature with the unaware waste of our present civilization ".

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Adriano Valeri, Profezia Minore, acrylic on paper, 2015, 25x35 cm. Cortuesy the artist and Galleria Marcolini, Forlì

118. SWISS MOUNTAINS

Mountain scenarios at Kunstmuseum in BaseL

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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Amselfluh, 1922, oil on canvas, 120 x 170.5 cm. Kunstmuseum Basel, with the support of Dr. H.C. Richard Doetsch-Benziger and Max Ras erworben, 1944. Courtesy Kunstmuseum Basel, photo credit Martin P. Bühler


The mountains, the epitome of stability and permanence, even of a reality that transcends time. Curated by Eva Reifert, the selection of works from our collection demonstrates in what way our idea of the mountains, their image in our minds, has kept evolving ever since outsiders started exploring the high mountain regions of the Alps two and a half centuries ago.
Art is always also a reflection of shifting worldviews. Depictions of the Alps emerge as a distinctive genre at the dawn of the Enlightenment, and a painter like Caspar Wolf, who undertakes extensive excursions into the mountains, embodies the spirit of scientific inquiry that is characteristic of his era. On the eve of the twentieth century, by contrast, Ferdinand Hodler’s works signal his efforts to overcome realism and restore nature’s mystery. By submitting his motifs to a symmetry that heightens their majesty, Hodler conveys his awe before the phenomena of nature.

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Ferdinand Hodler, Die Dents du Midi von Chesières aus, oil on canvas, 65.7 x 88.3 cm. Courtesy Kunstmuseum Basel, Vermächtnis Max Geldner, Basel, 1958. Photo credit: Kunstmuseum Basel, Martin P. Bühler
Alexandre Calame, Am Urnersee, 1849, oil on canvas, 194 x 260.5 cm. Kunstmuseum Basel, donation of the heirs of Marie Vischer d'Assonleville, 1950. Credit Kunstmuseum Basel, photo Martin P. Bühler 


The very formats indicate how the market and audience for landscape paintings change over time as the genre rises in prestige: in the mid-eighteenth century, the first tourists are enthralled by Johann Ludwig Aberli’s dainty souvenirs, whereas Alexandre Calame’s breathtaking vistas unmistakably cater to his clients’ desire for imposing art objects.
In art-historical terms, the selection traces an arc from Romanticism to Expressionism. Joseph Anton Koch’s idealizing depictions of snowcapped peaks, Segantini’s turn to painting en plein air right in front of the motif, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s use of violently agitated pinks and violets to visualize inner states of mind are important milestones in this development.
The domestication of Alpine peaks and panoramas as Switzerland’s trademark tourist attractions is part of this history as well. By contrast, what would seem to have changed very little are the longings that bring people to the mountains and the experiences with which they return from their explorations. The works on view reflect a strikingly constant set of themes: the desire to leave everyday life behind, the joy of natural beauty, the exhilaration of rising above it all, and the overwhelming sense of a presence greater than us.

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In order: Swiss Mountains, installation view at Kunstmuseum Basel, Julian Salinas; Niklaus Stoecklin, Landschaft bei Visp, 1920, oil on canvas, 51.5 x 59 cm. Acquired with the contribution of the Birmann Funds. Courtesy Kunstmuseum Basel, photo credit: Martin P. Bühler
Giovanni Giacometti, Paesaggio d’autunno, 1927, oil on canvas, 100.4 x 104.9 cm. Kunstmuseum Basel, property of the Federal Office of Culture in Bern (permanent loan, Kunstmuseum Basel, 1929). Credit Kunstmuseum Basel, photo: Martin P. Bühler


SWISS MOUNTAINS
Kunstmuseum, Basel
Curatet by Eva Reifert

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117. FABIO MARULLO

Figuration Plants

by Elisabetta Villani 

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Fabio Marullo, Ciò che di misterioso è palpabile, 2016, white clay, cm 53 x 42 x 24. Photo by Francesco Pizzo. Courtesy the artist

  • Since long time Fabio Marullo goes ahead with an artistic research whose intent is to dig deeper the unknown places of the mind and biology in general. Using different types of medium, such as painting, drawing and sculpture, the artist observes the phenomena of life and the laws that govern human beings.
    His work could be seen like a trip into a mysterious garden, with the aim to catch its invisible, mysterious and perhaps chaotic nature. To investigate the properties of things, of places but first of all to know the intimate nature of all organisms who live there.
    His representation, as rooted in a real dimension which is made of certain physical processes (Marullo in fact collects scraps of plants, roots and floral materials) is influenced also by a more dreamy sphere.
    The artist creates new imaginary, ideal and fantastic archeology and new universes of interpretation.

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  • In order: Orbite, 2016, installation view, variable dimension; Aprirci all’enigma dell’essere, 2015, Oil on linen, cm 140x100, courtesy Cultrera Collection; Ciò che di misterioso è palpabile, 2016, Oil on linen, cm 39x34. Photo by Francesco Pizzo. Courtesy the artist

  • His current production, titled “Figuration Plants”, moves from the intention to identify primitives creations that, with their ineffable character, have been for a long time considered as a “freak of nature”; organisms with uncertain features, characterized by a sense of suspended time. The reference is to the world of fossils: testimony of the past full of charme and mystery.
    It comes me to mind the publication of “The life of the inanimate objects” by Paul Nash (1938) for the “Country Life” magazine. Nash is a surrealist painter and during the Thirties started to use photography as an immediate form or registration as well as documentation of reality, declining, also in this case, his interest for the “objet trouvé” founded in nature (shells, stones, roots, shale pieces..).

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  • In order: Paul Nash, The Life of the Inanimate Object, Country Life, May 1937, Tate archive. Courtesy Tate Modern London. Fabio marullo, Cio che di misterioso è palpabile, 2016, pencil and ink on parchment, cm 30,5 x 22,5. Photo by Francesco Pizzo. Courtesy private collection


  • Elisabetta Villani

    Fabio, what are the references from which your artistic research moves from? Where does your interest in all the “strange objects”, apparently out of context, comes from?
    Fabio Marullo

    I have to say that nature, with its game of transformations, remains my reference paradigm, the one from which I start my work and that I need to propose.
    I am interested in creating works that reflect the natural elements, without any distinction or hierarchy, in their mutual interaction.
    My idea is that the combination between nature and artifice, between living organisms and spurious artifacts is able to trigger deliberate anachronisms, underlining that idea of ambiguity in which I am particularly interested: what at first could seems a fiction is instead a real situation that has escaped from our knowledge our perception or our ability to see.
    My interest is there, in that dubious place where the combination of natural species generate new revelations; organisms that for morphological similarity may be defined as intermediate beings, including plants, animals and vegetables.
    These convictions are the result of the combination of two different ways to go deep into this specific world: the first one in a literally way and thanks to scientific topics covered in the past by distinguished personalities from the field of science. The second one is the direct and unexpected encounter which is very important because it can modify your way of seeing things.


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    Fabio Marullo, Infiorescenza, 2015, cm 47 x 57. Courtesy Cultrera Collection


  • EV

    
The mystery and the double life of the so-called inanimate objects is timeless and therefore eternal.
    In “Archaeology”, one of your recent works, you show your insistent gaze for the fantastic, the imaginary, the memory and for the traces of time, nature and history.

    FM
    Yes, you are right. The work you are talking about was part of a project that I proposed in the exhibition titled “Archaeology” that was presented in Milano and later hosted at CPH-AIR (Copenhagen Artist in Residence). It is a pictorial transposition of a an imaginary and fantastic place, which is conceived with associations of symbolic codes, hidden memories and plants.
    A form of meditation with the aim to show the memory’ tension that aspires to open a palimpsest of new meanings full of light and silent magic.
    The main theme of the work titled Garanzia di discendenza has been the limited space of my jacket pocket, metaphorically as a small greenhouse where, unbeknownst to me, and for an indefinite time, had found its own living place a flower of the "Xanthium strumarium" specie.
    A work made in memory of a time spent between the beginning of a journey and its succession. It is like if the plant with its flower wanted to declare me its eternity, its power and its ambivalent functions, in a cosmic path between primordial and perfection.

  • EV
    What about your future projects?
    FM
    I am currently working on two different projects: the first one is titled "The Awaiters" and it is about the idea of wait; a visualization of a world in which the characters and the symbols coexist in a subtle and fragile balance through architecture, installation and painting.
    Furthermore I am working on a book project whose intent is to examine my idea of travel in an uncertain and doubtful garden.

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  • In order: Fabio Marullo, Garanzia di discendenza, 2015, oil on linen, cm 20 x 30, courtesy Cattaneo Diaz Collection; Xanthium strumarium, 2015, mixed media. Photo by Francesco Pizzo, courtesy the artist

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116. FRANCO MELLO

PROVOCATIONS AND CORRESPONDENCES

The Plart Foundation of Naples recently presented the exhibition PROVOCATIONS AND CORRESPONDENCES. Franco Mello between arts and design curated by Giovanna Cassese, organized in the context of PROJECT XXI (ed. 2017) in collaboration with the Donnaregina Foundation for Contemporary Arts.

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Franco Mello, Sedute Suburbia

This project exhibition is dedicated to the peaks of excellence in the production of Franco Mello, creator of contemporary design icons – such as the Cactus coat rack, designed in 1972 with Guido Drocco for the company Gufram – but, above all, living symbol of a designer who has believed in the dialogue among the arts from the start, as well as the Plart Foundation that hosts it.
Mello’s production is varied and elaborate, ranging from design to photography, from graphics to publishing, and it sees him in the role of an artist, a jewelry maker and a designer of complex installations.
On display the famous sculpture-objects in polyurethane foam made for Gufram and Dog Design: among them, the Seduta Incastro, the Tavolo Erba, and the Cactus presented in all its re-editions produced by the company from Piedmont, up to the Psychedelic Cactus of 2016 created by the fashion designer Paul Smith, and the Suburbia, Mun and Mun Bis seats.

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In order: Franco Mello, La-Grande Zucca; Mun and Mun; Testone con pratone, installation view at Castello di Rivoli. Museo d'arte contemporanea; Cactus.

Another section will be devoted to Franco Mello’s activity as a graphic designer, presenting artist’s books, catalogs and art magazines characterized by an outstanding print quality.
The exhibition displays also the jewels designed by Michelangelo Pistoletto, Emilio Isgrò, Mimmo Paladino, Marco Gastini, Matteo Bonafede, Aldo Spinelli: a selection from the Sfioro collection created in 2013 by Franco Mello, Mauro Bonafede and Susanna Besio Tosco.
Two unreleased videos and a wide selection of photographs taken by the artist in small and large format are part of the exhibition itinerary and will mark the voices of a production that ranges across the board from art to communication design and product design.

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In order: Metacactus; Roccocactus; Catalogue of the exhibition The rock furniture. Il design della Gufram negli anni del rock presso il Castello di Rivoli, 2002; Incastro; Tavolo Erba.

 

PROVOCATIONS AND CORRESPONDENCES. Franco Mello between arts and design
Plart Foundation - Naples
Curated by Giovanna Cassese
Until June 3, 2017

PROPOSAL #15 STEFANO CORBO

RHEOLOGY

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Rheology is an itinerant research project, developed between Europe and Middle East, and characterized by a clear methodological approach: a mere documentary and realist intent is superposed, through urban exploration, by the pursuit of latent conditions and unexpressed potentials.
Natural and artificial landscape, city, nature, architecture: all of these millenary interpretative categories merge into a new condition, which is at the same time blurred, altered, alienated.
Rheology works on a hybrid representation of the real, constituted by spatial-temporal fragments, from which it’s impossible to separate objects and subjects.
Rather than depicting finite objects located in a continuous and homogeneous space, through photography we can reflect about fluidity as a contemporary paradigm.
The so-called aesthetics of disappearance, evoked by Paul Virilio, acquires in Rheology a divergent meaning: by facing the ephemeral and de-materialized character of the recent artistic production, Rheology investigates the contamination among different agents, actors, bodies.
It’s possible, therefore, to define a rheology of art: discussion of art as flowing.

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"Rheology": the branch of physics that deals with the deformation and flow of matter, especially the non-Newtonian flow of liquids and the plastic flow of solids (Oxford Dictionary)

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All images: Stefano Corbo, Rheology, courtesy the artist 
This news was published in the context of spontaneous reports that come to Platform Green. For more information about the sending process of your project or work, please, go to the "Contacts" or “About” area.

 

115. DIEGO PERRONE

HERBIVOROUS CARNIVOROUS

Herbivorous Carnivorous is the title of the last solo show by Diego Perrone at Massimo De Carlo in Milano. A project that was presented overseas simultaneously at Casey Kaplan.
In both exhibitions the artist has unveiled to the public the last step of his artistic research, which focuses, one time again, the sculptural sperimentation.

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Diego Perrone, Senza Titolo, 2016, Glass, 60×80×20 cm. Photo by Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Massimo De Carlo, Milan/London/Hong Kong


Diego Perrone approaches his practice with aesthetic inventiveness, reimagining stylistic and more classical technical processes in sculpture and drawing. Using these mediums as a starting point for his investigations, Perrone expands these mediums accessing a transitory space that merges representation with the indescribable. For this exhibition, the bridge between convention and innovation is built through the time-honored technique of cast-glass. Within this process glass is cast by turning molten glass into a mold where it solidifies: through this technique Perrone is able to create distinct yet amorphous shapes and imagery. As individual fragments of glass are heated and fused together, gradations are produced within pigment-infused minerals and oxides. Clouds of color filter through translucent glass, each layer caught between crystal and soil.
Perrone’s interpretation of the cast glass process originated from a series of fiberglass sculptures titled “La fusione della campana (The casting of the bell)” (2005-2008). Conceived from traditional metal and bronze casting techniques, Perrone merged the three stages of bell casting into objects that were not bells, but bizarrely abstracted tubular and natural forms connected to bell shells. Unifying the individual steps involved in the conventions of this process, Perrone compressed tradition, time and space into a liquified structure resembling an excavated landscape.

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In order: Diego Perrone, Senza Titolo, 2016, Glass, 79×77×30 cm; Diego Perrone. Herbivorous Carnivorous, installation views at Massimo De Carlo, Milan-Ventura. Photo by Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Massimo De Carlo, Milan/London/Hong Kong


In a 2013 presentation at Museion Bolzano, Italy, Perrone applied this process using glass, presenting a series of sculptures in which representations of an ear and its spiral innards emerged. The repetition of the ear canal throughout the artist’s practice, initially appearing in biro on paper drawings in 1995, connects an anatomical anomaly to organic forms within nature. To Perrone, a material’s capacity to simultaneously cloak the passing of time through a physical object merges notions of permanence with the elusiveness of elements forever in motion.
The spherical glass heads contain recurring motifs within Perrone’s practice. Imagery of koi fish and tractors circle the space of the artist’s psyche. The repetition of symbols rooted in the artist’s rural upbringing alludes to living landscapes, by land or by sea, as they persist within the artist’s consciousness. In a surreal daze the tractor plows through from the corporeal to the cerebral.
In direct dialogue with the sculptures, Perrone’s works on paper embody similar perspectives. Viewed from peculiar downward angles, Perrone’s red biro self portraits are guided by striations of color and line, converging in compositions that exist as multidimensional forms in the round.
Natural shapes and industrial landscapes dwell within the artists’ mind, which translates the physical and mental consumption of these surroundings in the vocabulary of art. Each work in Self Portraits and Herbivorous Carnivorous addresses and challenges an overwhelming yet calming feeling of emptiness, where even the most fleshly actions are coated by a tangible mist.

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Diego Perrone. Herbivorous Carnivorous, installation views at Massimo De Carlo, Milan-Ventura. Photo by Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Massimo De Carlo, Milan/London/Hong Kong


DIEGO PERRONE
Herbivorous Carnivorous
Massimo De Carlo / Milan
Until March 11, 2017

114. ANNA REIVILÄ

NATURAL FORMS AND TENSION STRUCTURES

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Anna Reivilä, Bond #17, 2016, photo print on fine art paper. Courtesy the artist and Taik Persons Gallery


Generation 1988 and native of Helsinky, Anna Reivilä is a young photographer to which we dedicate the news number 114. Her artistic research, after the studies at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture of the Aalto University, is clearly influenced by the ambiental suggestions of the North European sphere within which the artist is immersed.
The “Bond” serie, that we are presenting here, seems to be a work very close to the performative dimension. Starting from the use of an element as the rope, Anna Reivilä transforms the traditional iconography of natural figures, which are relegated into “tension structures”.
Starting from an erotic imaginary that evokes to mind the hyper sensuality of tied bodies, Anna Reivilä generates unreal objects, able to fascinate the eye and to suggest important thoughts.

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In order: Anna Reivilä, Bond #17, 2016; Bond #1, 2014; Bond #3 2014, photo print on fine art paper. Courtesy the artist and Taik Persons Gallery


“I search spaces where nature’s elements combine to create interesting natural tensions and continue this dialogue through my interpretations by extending, wrapping and pulling upon these indigenous forms. I create a new sense of volume from the existing components”.

According to Japanese religious ceremonies, ropes and ties symbolize the connections among people and the divine, as a means to identify sacred space and time.
Inspired by Nobuyoshi Araki ́s images and their mixture of raw violence and beauty, Anna Reivilä studies the relationship between man and nature by referring to the Japanese bondage tradition. The Japanese word for bondage, kinbaku, literally means “the beauty of tight binding”. It is a delicate balance between being held together and being on the verge of breaking.
The use of ropes as lines is Anna Reivilä’s form of drawing. The lines create interactions, making connections between the elements and producing a reinterpretation of the landscape. These three-dimensional drawings are physically unstable - they exist only for the moment.

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In order: Anna Reivilä, Bond #2, 2014; Bond #13, 2016; Bond #18 2016, photo print on fine art paper. Courtesy the artist and Taik Persons Gallery

113. ALBERTO SCODRO

ecocene

Shape, matter and color in a dialogue with the space and with the viewer. Alberto Scodro shows his latest works at CAR DRDE gallery in Bologna.

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Alberto Scrodo, Owl1, 2014-15, courtesy the artist and CAR DRDE, Bologna

Eocene is the title of the last exhibition by Alberto Scodro at CAR DRDE gallery in Bologna, a project which is focused on a series of sculptures, mostly unpublished, connected by the fusion of materials of mineral origin.
The artist observes with a phenomenological gaze the continuous tension and processes inherent in space and matter to explicit them in artworks that experimenting the interactions between natural and artificial elements undergoing physical, alchemical or conceptual changes of state.
Fascinated by the unpredictability of the final result, he lives the sculptural practice as a wait for a unique and unrepeatable emergence which brings to light what is underground, comparing the fluid status of incandescent materials to the luminous manifestation of their essence and the subsequent solid aggregate to a secret strength who delivers intact to the future their potentiality.

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In order: Alberto Scodro, Eocene, installation views of the exhibition at CAR DRDE, Bologna, 2017, photo Carlo Favero; Spring#15, 2016. Courtesy the artist and CAR DRDE, Bologna.

Eocene, the geological era in which main mountain ranges arose and the first modern mammals appeared, is the mythical time of a sculpture that exists prior to man and grows from the mysterious vitality of the subsoil.
Paraphrasing the Greek etymology of the word which gives name to the exhibition, Scodro conceives a setting- incubator that combines primordial suggestions and contemporary residues as in a new dawn of creation. This primordial and apocalyptic landscape brings together the oxidized and crystallized evidences of the seasons, a circular motion source, dens made in the dark by a blind mole-architect and a precious hybrid fossil created by the union of an ear of corn and a fish bone. (Emanuela Zanon)

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Alberto Scodro, Winter#1, 2016, courtesy the artist and CAR DRDE, Bologna


After abandoning any reference to the organic softness, Alberto Scodro faces the matter from inside by investigating its hidden properties and allowing its expressive potentiality to appear through unpredictable processes.
But what we see is probably the “superficial” layer of an underwater world, complex and shapelss at the same time, which uses the space to appear within the real dimension.
By conforming to a variable expansion process, from the upward growth to the horizontal expansion, the young artist from Veneto experiments with the possibility to combine shape, matter and space.
We will need to wait for the future to better understand in which direction, and how this formless substance intends to move. (A.L.)

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In order: Alberto Scodro, Autumn#7, courtesy the artist and CAR DRDE, Bologna 2015; Torta, 2014, private collection; Autumn#5, 2015, private collection.


ALBERTO SCODRO
Eocene
CAR DRDE / Bologna
Until March 18, 2017

112. WOLFGANG LAIB

ART AS A THERAPY FOR THE SPIRIT

If there is a form of prayer that is expressed through art, the work of Wolfgang Laib can be considered the most sincere and intimate prayer. The German artist's work is perhaps the most authentic expression of a contemporary sublime that, in a low voice, whispers in our ears, the power of slow rhythms and invisible forces of nature.

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In order: Wolfgang Laib, The Cobra Snakes are coming out of the Well at Night, partial view of the exhibition, September 2008, Galleria Alfonso Artiaco, Napoli; W.L., Vogliamo partire, partial view of the exhibition, December 1998 - Galleria Alfonso Artiaco, Pozzuoli; W.L., The Cobra Snakes are coming out of the Well at Night, partial view of the exhibition, September 2008, Galleria Alfonso Artiaco, Napoli


I met Wolfgang Laib the last summer in his native home, in Metzingen, Germany. An extremely pleasant afternoon in his studio, surrounded by green meadows, the scent of wild flowers and damp earth. Sitting on the ground, next to some of the works on display, I immediately understood more than I could know about his artistic research. The ephemeral experience of perceiving and experiencing time, second by second, is made possible thanks to a sense of living in a ritual and slow way, seeming to come from to an unknown dimension.
Wolfgang Laib finds the necessary spirituality in the everyday semplicity, in the organic and natural materials surrounding him: honey, pollen, beeswax and rice. It is not difficult to understand this aspect, walking with him through the woods surrounding his home. The path becomes the place where takes shape the intimate walk within a nature, that is bearer of values and energies, which are later reproposed in his works. There he can find the pollen which is necessary for his installation, the serenity to work a sacred and precious material such as rice and the ancestral contact with the mysterious depths of the organic rhythms that we find in all his works. The simplicity of shape, colors and materials used conceals much more profund and complex meanings; the empty and the full co-exist within extremely poetic works, with an evocative and comunicative power.

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Wolfgang Laib, partial view of the exhibition, October 2016, Galleria Alfonso Artiaco, Naples, photo: Luciano Romano


Wolfgang Laib has recently returned to exhibit in Italy, in his fourth solo exhibition at Alfonso Artiaco Gallery in Naples, where he presented 12 new works conceived in a deep relation with the space in Piazzetta Nilo. Even in this case, the typical materials of his research have been exposed, among them we can find the brass ships posed on mounds of rice. The ships evoke a journey to another world echoing the meditative attributes of the ziggurat, architectural and archetypal figures that the artist reinterprets and recreates using beeswax. Stepped structures that, like for the boats, represent an invitation to cross the boundaries of a purely tangible world towards a higher level of spiritual comprehension of the universe. The ziggurat also reflect the artist's interest for housing and for spiritual spheres of Middle Eastern and South Asian culture.

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Wolfgang Laib, partial view of the exhibition, October 2016, Galleria Alfonso Artiaco, Naples, photo: Luciano Romano


In this latest exhibition in Naples, Laib has also presented some works on paper. Here, the possibilità to glimpse the trace of the drawings is tightly connected to how the light reflects on the work and the result is a powerful emptiness pregnant with spiritual resonance. Included in the show also a couple of marble rice houses, works that evoke enclosure and protection. Pieces with a minimalist character that should not be read in the strict sense of the term, rather understood in the Buddhist view of "eternal return".
Wolfgang Laib also presented a work realized with pollen, perhaps the most emblemati and representative material of his artistic research. Laib has stated that “pollen is the potential beginning of the life of the plant. It is as simple, as beautiful, and as complex as this. And of course it has so many meanings”. Pollen as a detail of infinity, a timless work. Finally, the show closed with an installation made of piles of rice. Another, iconic piece of the artist, whose aim to produce a calm composure, a “pacified disengagement”, a suspension fromreality where the spiritual reality of the work is embedded in its materiality.

 

111. SOPHIE KO

TERRA: Geografie temporali

For the first time, Galleria de’ Foscherari in Bologna presented a solo show by Sophie Ko Chkheidze (b. 1981 in Tbilisi), a Georgian artist who lives and works in Milan.
An exhibition focused on the images’ role within our life. Expressive and figurative power enter into dialogue with some foundational moments of history (and pre-history) of art.

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Sophie Ko. Terra, installation view at Galleria de' Foscherari, Bologna. Courtesy Galleria de' Foscherari  


All of the pieces on view (with the exception of Kaspar Hauser) belong to the artist’s Temporal Geography series: paintings made with the ashes of burnt images, or with pure pigment, constituting the most intense phase in the artist’s poetic reflection on the image. All of Sophie Ko’s work revolves around the question of what images mean in our lives, and her Temporal Geographies, with their expressive energy and undiluted figurative power, enter into dialogue with certain fundamental moments in the history (and prehistory) of art.
Terra (Earth) is the title of this exhibition, and the works it presents are an attempt to restore visibility to the earth, to give it new meaning as image. Images have been emptied of meaning because we no longer even see the earth. The unbridled expansion driven by a techno-economic rationale has reached the point that the earth itself has become invisible, valued only as the basis for this process. In the works of Sophie Ko, the earth is once more what it is, one of the four elements of the cosmos, the foundation of life itself.
Visiting the exhibition we are greeted by the Temporal Geography titled L’uomo accende a se stesso una luce nella notte (Man Kindles a Light for Himself in the Darkness), inspired by a fragment from Heraclitus, which invites us to see the radiance of the image (and of our spirit) in the gray-black ash of burnt images. Rising out of ashes, L'uomo accende a se stesso una luce nella notte embodies the relationship between time and image, in which time exerts a destructive pressure on images, yet images also form, gain depth, and are reborn out of the ravaging fury of time. The Temporal Geography lets us see how the image not only endures time, but marks time, channels it into a form, gives meaning and direction to our vision of this earth. 

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Sophie Ko. Terra, installation view at Galleria de' Foscherari, Bologna. Courtesy Galleria de' Foscherari

The five Temporal Geographies comprising Atlanti (Atlases) make the earth loom before us in the form of giant outcroppings, echoing Caspar David Friedrich’s Rocky Reef on the Sea Shore: we have reached the ends of the earth, and only now does the earth become visible again as a destination to be reached, a stark promised land, calling us to dwell there. In the blue distance of the rocks, we measure its remove.
In the room with the thirteen Temporal Geographies of Terra, we are plunged into the depths of the earth: we move forward engulfed in it, like Dürer’s knight, unable to look down at the tree roots, because they are now level with our heads. We see the earth once more because we have sunken into it, we are at the bottom of a tomb. The earth now reveals itself to us not through its sublime distance, but because it surrounds us on all sides: “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” We are left with the possibility of forging our own path, which begins within the earth, and step by step leads us back into the light, toward the Heavenly Jerusalem, the goal of Dürer’s knight.
Recognition of the earth is also the underlying theme of the watercolor Kaspar Hauser, the only work on view in which the figurative dimension of the hand is once again at the heart of the image. The legendary figure of Kaspar Hauser symbolizes human existence: Kaspar’s uncertain journey through life is transformed into a man on a small boat, shrouded in the whiteness and silence, moving off in search of his own land. The earth is not yet visible, but that is the direction of the voyage. Kaspar Hauser’s figure reflects the elliptical course of human life: for every human being, as Georg Trakl put it, “both evil and good have been prepared.”

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Sophie Ko. Terra, installation view at Galleria de' Foscherari, Bologna. Courtesy Galleria de' Foscherari