At Caterina Tognon gallery, Venice, is currently on view LEDA / GRECALE by Andrea Grotto and Cristiano Focacci Menchini, a double solo show with the latest works by the two young artists. We talked about it with Andrea Grotto.
The myth is about Leda seduced by Zeus who had appeared in the form of a swan along the banks of the river Eurotas. The mythological episode was evoked several times in the Art History and has exalted symbolic aspects in order to express specific needs. What remains of this aspect in your solo exhibition Leda? What new meaning did it assume in your displayed works?
We decided to borrow the myth for the image that it suggests. The double title LEDA / GRECALE aimed to coexist two investigations, started almost together but with different developments, even if both seek to speak of changes. An evening, while reviewing my works and talking to Valentina Lacinio, my friend and curator (now at campo16 Sandretto Re Rebaudengo), she reminded me of the myth of Leda that tells exactly a history of physical and state change. “Simposio”, in particular, suggested this reflection, in which a sleeping feline is crystallizing and its characteristic fur is taking the form of a forest. The whiteness of the swan and the feline’s one created this mutual sense. Then, considering the rest of works for the exhibition, we realized the action taken by Zeus was present in my paintings in the form of a snake that generates a room made of red marble or in the blossoming of a halite.
How does the transformation, or rather the transfiguration, come to life in your work?
It often happens through painting and drawing. My work comes from reflections linked from image to image, but the transformation I talk about is never happening. The picture tells the story of what is going to happen just after, or rather of what’s left. I like to tell about the place where it happened, like an informations’ essence through a mysterious dialogue between the place’s elements, “the smell” remained in the room and the atmosphere that was recreated at the end of the process.
The process of associations and analogies, allegories arising from images and the use of everyday objects recall Proust’s Madeleine. Regarding the evocation tool in your artworks: can we consider it a sort of mise en abîme? An image in another image?
Yes, the evocation mentioned by Proust is exactly the revelation I tried to obtain working on everyday objects and the leverage that they could exercise on memory. I started trying to rebuild, through painting, a series of landscapes on which I had actually traced a route that I walked on foot and once in the studio, step by step, I was going to rebuild. Later I focused on small spaces, on interior landscapes, dragging an invisible and mysterious history thanks to those elements coming from the dialogue with others. In the artworks on view at the exhibition, the whole reflection was focused on the relationship between the element, the image’s subject and what surrounds it. However, everything inside the space is needed.
The realization of the work in progress, tiles which are gradually inserted in the whole and complete it. Where does your work come from and how is developed?
It comes from an idea that often comes from a play of meanings and reasoning that I put together. Sometimes, they comes from reading and other times from images’ traces that remain in my mind. I do not like to use ready-made images, I prefer to work within the cone of uncertainty that characterizes a filtered scene from memory in which there is much more reworking space. The representation aimed at a narrative’s discovery, which develops by degrees, following and complying with the needs of the work and history that thanks to the size and the point of view allow an almost physical access to the scene.
The choice of the means of intervention, the preference for the multidisciplinary…
My way of thinking concerning the work is purely related to painting and representation, but the decision to use different media comes first of all, from my curiosity and need to use another medium in order to reach the final aim in a more functional way. Another aspect that I’m investigating more systematically is the relationship that can be established between the representation and the physical use of space thanks to the objects that are placed in. For this reason I am interested in working on several sides, so that the work is as varied and stimulating as possible…at least for me.
Andrea Grotto, ‘La casa del serpente avrà sempre il suo colore’, 170×135 cm, oil on canvas, 2016 e ‘Untitled’, 30×30 cm, oil on canvas, 2016
Andrea Grotto, ‘Plinio e Salgemma’, 50×40 cm, oil on canvas, 2016
Andrea Grotto, ‘Simposio’, 162×130 cm, oil on canvas, 2015. Cristiano Focacci Menchini, Rosso geranio, acquaforte su carta, 55×60 cm, 2016 e Studio + muffa, acquaforte su carta, 45,3×59,8 cm, 2016
Andrea Grotto, ‘Untitled’, 30×30 cm, oil on canvas, 2016. Cristiano Focacci Menchini, Eppur si muove, acquaforte acquatinta su carta, 33×35,7 cm, 2016 e La prima boa sui mari di Marte, acquaforte su carta, 21×23 cm, 2016