• Interviews
  • Joseph Marioni. Mr. Painter

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    “Liquid Light”, the first solo exhibition by Joseph Marioni in Italy, was held at Luca Tommasi Contemporary Art with six works from 2004 to date. An extinct painting which abandons any categorization to meet the observer at the crossroads of precise coordinates: archetypes as primary colors lulled by new forms of architecture, while the gestures refine […]

  • Interviews
  • Gare de l’est. An invite to slowness

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    After the exhibitions realized at Teatro Anatomico de Waag in Amsterdam (Gare du Nord) and at Teatro Anatomico dell’Archiginnasio in Bologna (Gare du Sud), Gare de l’est is on view at Teatro Anatomico di Palazzo del Bo in Padova. The interview to the curator Chiara Ianeselli.

    The connection between art and anatomical theater: where does this wish to relate them come from? What is the intent of this dialogue? Why the choice of this space? What can an anatomical theater’ space offer, compared to an aseptic setting such as that of a gallery or of a museum (in relation to the fruition of the artworks). Where does Les Gares project come from?

    The project Les Gares stems from a “perverse” relationship with the idea of time: the anatomical theaters meant as places where man proceeded chasing the eternity, dissecting in the other beings the reasons and the motions of existence. It was 2014 when I went in the Anatomical Theatre de Waag in Amsterdam in order to attend an astrophysics conference by Vincent Icke: the talk was about the period of stars’ formation. Meanwhile, I was staring, mesmerized, at the coats of arms of Dutch surgeons on the ceiling. From that moment I started to imagine a new project able to gather different disciplines and to move through time and space, here is Les Gares: this term comes from the concept of body as place of transit, a station of flows, of thoughts. The project has now reached its third expressions, indeed, to this day it was preceded by the exhibition Gare du Nord  at Anatomical Theatre in Amsterdam in 2015: a group show with museum loans; Gare du Sud at Teatro Anatomico dell’Archiginnasio in Bologna between 2015 and 2016, a solo exhibition by Nicola Samorì; and Gare de l’Est, currently on view in Padova (until March 15, 2017), a group exhibition with private and foundations’ loans. The artworks displayed are by Alberto Burri (Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini, Alberto Burri Collection), by Nicola Samorì and by Gustave-Joseph Witkowski (private collection). The relationship between art and anatomical theaters, or generally between art and anatomy, predates us from thousands of years: art has often been the sister of science, it was its instinct, in a fruitful conjunction in which they were reciprocally feeding each other, often without the possibility of distinguishing themselves. In a way, science “aging” becomes art. This bond then, is definitely not an invention of the contemporary. Every anatomical theater has also its own distinctive features, a milieu that wished it, and some questions that it has generated, some promoted researches. This path has allowed to highlight similarities and differences between uses and different levels of “sacredness” of these places. The anatomical theaters, as historic buildings in general, voluntarily show traces of their layering in the development process and in their use, while whitecubes instead try to back out of dimension of time in an unblemished way, hurriedly hiding signs and imprints of individuals’ passage within it, often with awkward results. The subject of the antiques, archeology, tells much more about the present time than a supposed contemporary art we are subjected to.

    The Anatomical Theatre of Palazzo del Bo, University of Padua, is a place rich of historical past and it’s where, in a way, science used to become like a spectacle, almost theater. The scientific dimension, with such a rational component, how does it meet art? How is the collaboration between art and science expressed?

    The anatomical theater of Padua, the oldest anatomical theater preserved to this day, inaugurated in 1595, has contributed to make Padua one of the leading medical schools in the West. In this school several doctors who have taught, among which Vesalio, Falloppio and Acquapendente, authors of fundamental progress in the medical field. Realdo Colombo discovered the pulmonary circulation (small circle); Gabriele Falloppio uterine tubes; Girolamo Fabrici d’Acquapendente the swallow’s nest valves in veins. This scientific dimension of knowledge, has always been linked to the artistic one ( for example the famous  Fabrica in 1543 by Vesalius, the manifesto of modern anatomy). In addition, the cooperation between science and art specifically in Gare de l’Est, is primarily expressed in the structure of the theatre itself,  a refined “machine to see” (Maurizio Rippa Bonati) and then in the exhibition’s forms which provides for cooperation of different figures. This interdisciplinary approach characterizes both the general conception of the project and the artists choise. Concerning the connection with the knowledge, Les Gares project allowed me to get in touch with several anatomical theaters’ enthusiasts: hence the project THESA that gather Luca Borghi, Professor at Istituto di Filosofia dell’Agire Scientifico e Tecnologico Università Campus Bio-Medico of Rome; Maurizio Rippa Bonati (already mentioned), Professor of History of Medicine at University of Padua; Andrea Cozza,  near-graduated in Medicine and Surgery at University of Padua; Emanuele Armocida, doctor in specialist formation in Industral Medicine; Valentina Cani, post doc at University of Pavia and collaborator at the Museum of Medicine History of Pavia; Chiara Mascardi, with a phd focused on the anatomical theaters’ role in modern culture.

    Concerning the formats and artists, how was the project organized?

    The scientific consultation for the exhibition was Maurizio Rippa Bonati, medicine historian, among the leading experts of anatomy theaters. Rippa Bonati has allowed me to understand the state of art on the knowledge of the anatomical theater of Padua and to probe various possible directions of the project. In general, in the various geographical expressions of Les Gares, they were involved doctors, medicine historians, surgeons, astrophysicists, photographers devoid of sight, poets and astronomy experts were involved. The profiles of the artists I worked with in the whole project, were likewise diverse, almost always with site-specific interventions: Sonja Bäumel ascribes his practice in bio-art, Laurent Garnier-David, a wise French “nose”, focuses on  optical and perfumes, Nicola Samorì, precious painter and sculptor, juggler of the matter and then Alberto Burri, one of the greatest Italian artists of the twentieth century. The choice of works has reflected the interconnection between different disciplines and eras: the work – atlas with overlapping boards showing the mechanism of vision, the eye, of 1878-1888 by Gustave-Joseph Witkowski, a French physician and propagator, it is the highest product of human intelligence, both in terms of artistic research and of scientific instrument. Indeed, this atlas was used to share knowledge on the structure of the eye through the different papers of its structure.

    In the anatomical theater dissection of bodies took places, the anatomies were prepared for educational reasons.  Does the project have an educational worth? Or, if not strictly in an educational way, does it wish to push the visitor to a new interpretation of the anatomical theater space? Could this project be considered as an attempt to shed new light on the theater, a more contemporary one for instance?

    Certainly, the project has a cultural value: I think it has the chance to propose an experimental vision of places, instead of an antiques or conservative one.I think it is a delicate procedure, which tries above all to respect these spaces’ aura, and then it leans temporarily in a harmonious way, aware of the impossibility to identify with it and to dovetail perfectly. Many of the rituals performed in these “anatomical churches” are still unknown, and we can retrace them, or perhaps imagine them, through various proofs, iconographic and documentary, including for example chronicles by students, medical treatises, citizens registers or visitors diaries ( concerning this subject, the famous sentence by Goethe, on the occasion of his trip to Italy in 1786, he wrote: “They look down to the narrow space where the operating table is, on which no glimmer of light falls”). I do not think we need a new contemporary light to read these spaces, they do not need us to show their strength and their beauty. The chance to enjoy time in this theaters, the possibility of being transformed that I wanted to share then, it was given to me by the forward-looking professionals, who believed that a project built on the research could be hosted by these masterpieces of the human mind, in a perspective not only of heritage enhancement but also of sophisticated  experimentation. In particular, the Vice-Chancellor to the artistic heritage, museums and libraries of the University of Padua, Professor Giovanna Valenzano, medieval art historian, has carefully followed the project’s development with a significant involvement.

    The structure of the theater reminds of an optical instrument and a reflection on the sight sense that seems to be a recurring theme…

    Gare de l’Est has exactly considered the Rippa Bonati studies related to the Anatomical Theatre of Palazzo del Bo. Although the ownership of the theater’s structure is not totally documented, the current information tend to emphasize the involvement of d’Acquapendente, anatomist at the end of the sixteenth century. Rippa Bonati has examined in depth the interests of the anatomist at that moment, showing how in the Nineties his research was focused on the anatomy of the eye.  Moreover, in his De visione, voce, auditu (1600), a work dedicated indeed to the sight, contains a striking image of bovine’s orb, immediately comparable to the view from above of the Theatre of Padua. Hence the idea to persist on the macro / micro vision, the tele vision ( remote vision ) and the close one, the “panopticon” and the archaeological perception, blind, of what is submerged. The gap between the scales inspired the realization of the works or their selection. The artwork Lucy by Nicola Samorì (pure white Carrara marble, lunar fragment, cm 90 x 35 x 30, 2016) is a cabbage, transposed and magnified in marble containing a lunar fragment. In regard, Samorì wrote: “I have the impression that our mind coincides with the eye, even that of the blind, and this for the simple reason that the eyes’ origin dwells in the brain.” Cretto by Burri (Cretto, 1974, acrovinyl on cellotex, cm 76,5 x 101, Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri) is the perfect proof of the vision’s scalability, and I refer to the infinite Cretto in Gibellina realized by the artist from 1984. The vision and its limits have always been one of my greatest obsession, strengthened by the reading of the “Eye’s natural history” by Ings.

    The invitation to slowness and reflection offered to visitors …

    This is undoubtedly a key element of the exhibition and, in general, of my relationship with art. The artworks in Les Gares does not claim public intents and do not even social one, but they invite us to sensually and individually probe them, in every detail and from different perspective, heights, emotional states. They communicate through their matter to those who are careful, to those who can hear. Captions and critical texts are available on a brochure, allowing the viewers to enjoy the works’ nature. Gare de l’Est invites us to think of the time with divisions of geologic times, not simply human.  Concerning this, I think the exhibition metaphorically invites to see the seed while looking at a tree, to see then the marble block before the sculpture, the tree before the paper and so on. The gate in Les Gares is slow, like that of who walks at a station, without ever having been there.

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    Gare de l’Est, Veduta della mostra

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    Alberto Burri, Cretto, 1974, Acrovinilico su cellotex, cm 76,5×101, Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri

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    Nicola Samorì, Lucy, 2016, Marmo bianco puro di Carrara, frammento lunare, cm 90x35x30

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    Gare de l’Est, Veduta della mostra

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    Nicola Samorì, Primo bianco, 2016, Marmo Michelangelo, cm 42x32x7

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    Teatro Anatomico, Gare Du Sud

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    Teatro Anatomico, Gare Du Sud

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    Gare du Nord, Veduta d’insieme

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    Laurent David Garnier, PUMA (Polarised Unlimiting Magnitude Absolute), n.2, 2015. Teak wood metallic tube iridescent nanostructure carpet, cm 100x20x14

  • Interviews
  • Matteo Negri. Piano Piano

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    On the occasion of his solo exhibition “Piano Piano” at ABC Arte in Genova, Lorenzo Bruni encountered and talked with Matteo Negri.

    Lorenzo Bruni: Can you explain what is the conceptual core of your solo exhibition in Genoa “Piano Piano”?
    Matteo Negri: The answers given from the exhibited works are basically related to the question of how images are “stuck” to artistic objects. How does the external context become part of the object itself? From this point of view, this is not an exhibition about sculpture or painting, but about the role of “public” works of art. For this reason, my process method moved the attention from the form of the object to its essence.

    LB: Your recent works are focused on showing, measuring and realizing the space and time, which divide and connect the observer and the object under observation. You might have been inspired by what happened in the history of art, where the attention moved from form to the perception of form itself, and in the social media and digital screen era, where the human subject is able to experience things in a real and virtual way.
    MN: Everything is real and virtual at the same time. These standards must be reconsidered, they are not opposite categories anymore as it happened by the end of the Nineties. My last works – including the video, in which I throw the sculpture/spinning top into the sea, and the wall drawing, including two paintings, made of special resins, representing oblique surfaces – are this: devices to study the influence by digital images in our society, or the culture and perception of the past, going beyond the superficiality connected to our present times’ haste. My “Piano piano” work, conceived for the main ABC gallery’s room, is the core of the exhibition and was realized following this necessity of mine.

    LB: The sculpture you mentioned is made of two reflecting surfaces crossing each other. They do not show only themselves but, through their pictorial, lyrical and plastic effects, they also show the environment containing them, both in physical and conceptual ways.
    MN: The two surfaces form a kind of disordered composition. Thanks to two special films applied on them, they produce unique color effects. These films are industrial products, they are mainly used in architecture to modify the impact of light on glass walls. In this way, I could create a concrete object and an optical effect in progress. The results are the endless points of view highlighted on the object himself. All these points of view are aware of themselves. I feel these two surfaces, one horizontal and one vertical, finding a balance in the space between them, are a kind of “image hoover”.

    LB: So are these “virtual and perspectival” surfaces, which must be considered also as physical and concrete components, your answer to the de-materialization of space through the emerging of social networks, or is it related to a more ancient aspect, such as Escher’s reflections on optical mistakes in the last century?
    MN: Mmm… I try to squeeze the de-materialization you mentioned. Only in this way I am able to create not only a sculptural object, but also a device activating in the observer’s mind a reflection on the perceptive mechanism of the observer itself. To observe and imagine these two surfaces means we must be aware of the point of view through which we imagine/observe them. So this work focuses more on materializing spatial references, rather than being a representation of space. As observers, we find ourselves observing a sculpture reflecting on itself.

    LB: Is this process method the same used for the wall drawing, including the “PSA” paintings?
    MN: The “PSA” wall drawing is based on the concepts of fullness and emptiness. The serigraph pattern on aluminum and the glass varnishes increase the focal depth of the painted surfaces. Here the pattern is a leitmotif, it “draws” the surfaces and the wall on which all paintings are hanged. So, as soon as the installation was ready, it was possible to notice how the painted plates and the wall could dialogue on the continuous space created by the perspective surfaces in an irregular but poetical way. That is why I inserted an empty space at the start, I needed to represent also emptiness before moving into the narration. This pattern made of holes, basic part of the wall drawing and connecting my paintings with the architecture, is a kind of matrix (dot-space, dot-space) or language for me. It helps me to anchor myself somewhere inside the infinite visual possibilities. I am sure that these surfaces exist just because I see them, even when they are seen from a diagonal point of view or even when they add dynamic and irregular elements to the frontal vision of the wall. The most extraordinary thing is that I (and the observer) can imagine and plan them at the same time.

    LB: Does your choice of marking the territory and observing it as your first time, through the positioning of the sculpture and the related photographic “narration”, underline your need, both as an artist and citizen, to take a responsibility and be aware of the physical place from which we observe and receive all the information of the world?
    MN: My need of references is the thin red line connecting all works taking part to this solo exhibition. The choice of placing at the entrance of the gallery my photographic work, showing the series of actions made in Genoa with this sculpture, goes into the same direction.

    LB: This photographic work of yours is a sort of conceptual matryoshka. One photo contains a series of other photos, which in turn contain several urban landscapes containing a sculpture. The image suggests a relational dimension with the observer, thanks to the exposition of places right outside the location of the exhibition and not far away like exotic places. It represents a complete image to you, in the same way as the stories on the Trajan’s Column. Heroic actions are shared, but in time, not in the process. Today’s heroic actions might come out when you become aware of the details of places you walk through. Indeed, any time you will represent this action for an exhibition, you will re-make the artwork and connect it to the city hosting the event. Also this aspect underlines your works of art do not share the same needs of some artists at the end of the Nineties (Fischli & Weiss, Giuseppe Gabellone, Patric Tuttofuoco, Annika Larson). They reflected on the role and the stratification between the different media. So they tried to create short-circuits using the sculpture technique, which was activated, at times, only to be documented by photographic reproductions. Your necessity rather comes from the need to go beyond the times of social networks and the creation of consensus and demonstrations. You want to show the re-activation of space as social aggregation: the square, not virtual and not even real, is not a project for the future, but is not even a memory.
    MN: The core of my work is not only the idea of a nomad sculpture stealing images of the city to then survive only through a document: to place it, photograph it and take it away. My idea is to move the attention towards the time of perception felt by the observer, rather than merely contemplating the object. In my way, I assign more importance to the action of joining context, presence and memory.

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    Matteo Negri, Navigator 3, 2016, 110×110 cm, digital print on glossy paper epson

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    Matteo Negri, Piano Piano, Abc arte Genova, Installation view 2016, 257x276x160 cm galvanized iron liquid chrome tempered glass and film

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    Matteo Negri, Piano Piano, Abc arte Genova, Installation view 2016, 257x276x160 cm galvanized iron liquid chrome tempered glass and film

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    Matteo Negri, Piano Piano, Abc arte Genova, Installation view 2016, 257x276x160 cm galvanized iron liquid chrome tempered glass and film

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    Matteo Negri, Piano Piano, Abc arte Genova, Installation view 2016, Navigator video