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Micol Assaël

HANGARBICOCCA
Via Privata Chiese 2
March 24–May 4

Micol Assaël, 432 Hz, 2009,
 sound, wood, wax bees, honey, 13 x 10 x 8'.

From the start of her career, Micol Assaël has conceived of her works as total sensory experiences that engage—often rather aggressively—sight, sound, smell, and touch. This miniretrospective in Milan (with the unwieldy title “ILIOKATAKINIOMUMASTILOPSARODIMAKOPIOTITA,” a sort of tongue twister made up of both Greek and invented words) comprises five installations that can be accessed by two or three viewers at a time. Of these, only one principally depends on the audience’s vision: Sub, 2014, a metal and glass box created for the occasion that contains a rudimentary Kelvin generator producing small electrical charges. The other installations challenge visitors with contained spaces plunging to temperatures of negative twenty-two degrees Fahrenheit (Vorkuta, 2003); icy jets of air and metallic, clanging sounds (Senza titolo [Untitled], 2003); and the noxious odor of naphtha coming from old electric motors (Mindfall, 2007). Viewers find respite only in 432 Hz, 2009, a small wooden room in which honeycombs set into the walls emit a soft, amber-colored light, the faint buzzing of bees, and a delicate odor of beeswax. Looking carefully, one discovers that the artist has plugged up some of the honeycomb’s cells, thus delineating rudimentary figures, such as a spiral.

Until now, almost all of Assaël’s work has been marked by the threatening allure of old machinery. 432 Hz departs from that aesthetic, but the piece fundamentally adheres to her general principles. Whether her art assaults the senses or insinuates itself into them, she seeks to make viewers aware of the nonhuman forces that surround them at every moment: physical phenomena such as electricity and magnetism, or, in this case, the activity of other living species. From this viewpoint, her works, even those that are most apparently repellent, invite a form of meditation, and their impact seems less dictated by a desire to overwhelm viewers than by a need to confront them with their limitations.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Simone Menegoi

Alejandro Cesarco

GALLERIA RAFFAELLA CORTESE
Via Stradella 1 - 7 - 4
February 20–May 10

View of “Alejandro Cesarco,” 2014.

Alejandro Cesarco’s investigative path and his poetically stark Conceptual works often depend a great deal on an imaginative encounter between a word and an image. His current solo exhibition in Milan occupies both of Raffaella Cortese’s adjacent galleries. The series “A Portrait of the Artist Approaching 40,” 2013, offers three small black-and-white photographs that immortalize details of the floor in his New York studio and that from afar appear as random punctuation marks arranged by chance, perhaps in expectation of finding a place within a yet to be written text.

The show contains other pages, as in The Style It Takes (Excerpts), 2014, which offers an index, from a book yet to be written, whose subject headings—at once biographical and concerning art theory, personal and academic—address the possibilities of art, the social function of art, and the shifting roles of the artist. The artist seems to insist on this point of the book’s unfinishedness, almost as if he were seeing art as an open problem. The Style It Takes (Excerpts) is thus an indicator that becomes a narrative hypertext; the reader can intuit the contents of this hypothetical text, reading the clues that are presented. One thinks here of a significant historical reference in the history of the hypertext, namely Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, a masterpiece of metaliterature.

The exhibition includes a dramatic surprise in Musings, 2013, a 16-mm film transferred to video in which a narrator conveys a series of stories—what we might call sources, occasions, and possible inspirations for artists in general—that investigate dreams, death, and fate. The work brings together stories written or inspired by Susan Sontag, Ingmar Bergman, Maurice Blanchot, Agnès Varda, Gertrude Stein, Italo Calvino, and Julio Cortázar, without maintaining the slightest idea of linearity. In the end, Musings triangulates the ideas of inspiration, influence, and inheritance.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Marco Tagliafierro

Ceal Floyer

LISSON GALLERY | MILAN
Via Zenale 3
March 24–May 16

View of “Ceal Floyer,” 2014.

A long white line lies at the heart of Ceal Floyer’s current solo exhibition in Milan, which offers a selection of her works and underscores her interests in perception, our relationships with space, and the erosion of traditional mediums, resulting in atmospheres charged with a sense of the absurd and irony. Floyer’s Taking a Line for a Walk, 2008—for which she drove a line-marking machine through the gallery, tracing a continuous streak in white, water-based paint—both guides and diverts the visitor between the two floors of the space, between above and below. While the title references a statement by Paul Klee on the significance of drawing—taken from his 1923 book Pedagogical Sketchbook—and invites a reflection on art as cognitive process, the action Floyer has carried out in the space instead insists on the disciplinary trespassing of her practice, where sculpture, painting, drawing, and performance reconfigure everyday objects. The viewer is pushed to move beyond familiar habits in thinking and perceiving objects, with evocations of themes that were essential to the second-generation avant-gardes (as, for example, the white line created by Richard Long in Amalfi in 1968, on the occasion of the “Arte Povera+Azioni Povere” exhibition).

Other works are arranged around the line like bits of a conversation on the significance of sculpture: from Press, 2014, a sheet of crumpled paper whose sole legible form is the imprint of an iron (a sort of dual play on the dual meaning of press), to On the Video, 2014, a monitor that repeats the same fragment of Donna Summer’s 1969 song “On the Radio”; and from Mirror Globe, 2014, a disco ball transformed into a globe, to Max Headroom, 2014, an aluminum sign placed on the exterior stairs of the gallery, which indicates a maximum height beyond which viewers will bump their heads, but also serves to indicate a general sense of limitation. Outside, in the gallery’s courtyard, Greener Grass, 2014—a rectangular, vividly verdant patch of grass—speaks to an ambiguity between real and artificial nature.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Paola Nicolin

Patrick Tuttofuoco

STUDIO GUENZANI
Via Eustachi 10
March 28–May 17

Patrick Tuttofuoco, Marcomanno (Purple), 2014, cloth and resin, dimensions variable. Installation view, McDonalds, Piazza del Duomo, Milan.

The five large, brightly colored masks in Patrick Tuttofuoco’s latest exhibition look like props from a science-fiction film. Made of cloth and resin, these ghostly sculptures quickly impose their presence. Consider, for instance, Adiabene (Blue), 2014, which is installed near the entrance to the show, frightening or welcoming visitors. Two more masks are installed off-site, in a McDonald’s in the Piazza del Duomo and in the studio of the collector Ermanno Previdi. The spatial transfer has resulted in the presence of two apparently incongruous objects in the rooms of Galleria Guenzani: a fetish/statue of Ronald McDonald (from that local fast-food spot) and a motorcycle that belongs to Previdi. The latter is, in my opinion, a quotation of a well-known work by Tuttofuoco, his 2000 video Otto, the protagonist of which is, in fact, a scooter designed by the artist along with his cousin and a group of adolescents.

Reading the press release for the show, one learns that the sixteenth-century faces sculpted on the facade of the Casa degli Omenoni in Milan inspired Tuttofuoco’s masks. A more careful viewing of the exhibition then leads one to believe that the entire installation is a tribute to Milan, the city where the artist was born, educated, and which he says he often thinks about—although he has lived happily in Berlin for some years now.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Marco Tagliafierro

Piero Manzoni

PALAZZO REALE
Piazza del Duomo, 12
March 26–June 2

Piero Manzoni, Achrome, 1958–59, paint and kaolin on canvas, 13 3/4 x 10".

Fifty-one years after Piero Manzoni’s death, the Palazzo Reale plays host to an extensive retrospective of his work. It’s his first show in Milan—a city to which he was closely tied—since 1997, and with 130 works, as well as films and documents, the exhibition confirms the importance and prescience of both the artist’s research and output, which anticipated many issues in Conceptual art. But he only arrived at this point after first making earlier work, dense tar-covered canvases (such as L’immagine interiore [Interior Image], 1957), that reverberated with the influence of the “arte nucleare” movement—a source of inspiration that grew more dispersed and subtle in the material surfaces of his early white paintings of 1957, which he later named “Achromes.”

The variations in the Achromes on view here highlight the artist’s serial use of materials, such as puckered canvas, plush, cotton wool, compressed paper, and bread. Attentive to the work of Lucio Fontana, Manzoni soon moved away from the canvas, by making Fiato d’artista (Artist’s Breath), 1960, his “Uova scultura” (Egg Sculptures), 1960, and his famous Merda d’artista (Artist’s Shit), 1961. All serial products and processes, the works reveal the inscription of immaterial and residual elements within processes of artmaking—ironic elements that seem to lack distinctive qualities other than those superimposed by the artist’s desire to give them status. In his “Sculture viventi” (Living Sculptures), 1961, the works’ artistry is all but guaranteed by “certificates of authenticity,” wherein Manzoni left his autograph on participants’ bodies. The exhibition is only complete, however, with Socle du monde (Base of the World), 1961—though here it’s distorted in the installation: placed on a base of its own, rather than on the ground outside. What yields perhaps the most enlightening commentary, ultimately, is the documentation accompanying the show: both the artist’s book—which includes empty pages in translucent plastic—and the collection of rare footage of the artist’s actions.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Alessandra Pioselli

Regina José Galindo

PADIGLIONE D'ARTE CONTEMPORANEA (PAC)
Via Palestro 14
June 7–June 8

Regina Galindo, Exhalación (estoy viva) (Exhalation [I am alive]), 2014. Performance view, Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Milan.

Regina José Galindo’s retrospective at PAC is entitled “Estoy Viva” (I am Alive). The phrase is also the title of the work, also 2014, that visitors first encounter, appearing in large iron letters on the wall—an assertive welcome. “I am alive” were words spoken by one of the indigenous Mayan women who suffered violence under the military dictatorship in Guatemala who now bore witness, their only option after emerging from the experience with nothing but their lives. The artist reads from various personal accounts of the violence in the video La Verdad (The Truth), 2013, while a dentist numbs her mouth. Through lucid and concentrated actions, Galindo penetrates and transmits the essence of a voiceless body faced with brutality and coercion, inscribing this condition within herself and exposing her fragility. All forty-eight works in the exhibition demonstrate this, including performances documented by videos and photographs—one conceived specifically for PAC, Exhalación (estoy viva) (Exhalation [I am alive]), 2014—but also drawings and sculptures. They are divided into sections entitled Politica (Politics), Donna (Woman), Organico (Organic), Violenza (Violence), and Morte (Death).

El cielo llora tanto que debería ser mujer (The sky weeps so much it must be a woman), 1999, was one the first actions staged by the artist for the exhibition, in which she immersed herself in a tub of water, holding her breath until her lungs were ready to burst. Exhalación (estoy viva) is the most recent work—performed by Galindo at the opening of the show. The artist, having taken a sedative, remained stretched out in an empty room, naked, pacified as if drained of all life. Entering one at a time, people were encouraged to witness the vapor from her breath by holding a little mirror close to her nose. The artist, however, somehow held on to consciousness despite being drugged, until doctors on standby came in to readminister the anesthesia. Eventually, she regained her senses after a long wait. Her fortuitous resistance to the sedative revealed the effort and difficulty entailed in putting the body to the test, an act that, all too human, transcends the artifice of staging. In the end, art and existence merged, as Galindo’s body itself shouted “I am alive.”

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Alessandra Pioselli

Zineb Sedira

GALLERIA RICCARDO CRESPI
Via Mellerio 1
June 5–July 19

Zineb Sedira, Coming and Goings # 2, 2014, C-print on dibond, 39 x 49".

The sea is an entity that separates and conjoins geographies and histories, where unpredictable routes are traced. In Zineb Sedira’s current exhibition, “Maritime Chronicles,” which presents her recent work, she examines the ocean as an omnipresent dimension.

Sedira created the photographic series “Ship on Sand,” 2014, and the diptych series “Comings and Goings,” 2014, in a cemetery of abandoned ships in Nouadhibou, Mauritania. In these works, the artist captures anchors that hang from the rusty sides of ship, sinking into the sand. By metonymy, they speak of the ocean and voyages, but also of failure. Nouadhibou is a place that stands for an economy tied to the sea, where global business matters, decaying ships represent an ecological problem, and migratory birds come and go and from where thousands of people attempt to depart for Europe every day. Multiple stories are collected within the powerful image of the anchor. Also on view, the photographs from the series “Sugar Silo,” “Sugar Mountain,” “Sugar Surface,” and “Sugar Landscape” (all 2013) more directly address the issue of migration, depicting mountains of cane sugar from the southern regions of the globe crammed into the warehouses of Marseille, delineating abstract landscapes and geographies both real and imaginary. Imaginary elements hide behind the construction of every archive.

With the video installation Transmettre en abyme (Passing into the Abyss), 2012, Sedira revives the memory of the Detaille photographic archive in Marseilles, which offers works by three generations of photographers from Marseille, dating from 1895 to today, including the work of Marcel Baudelaire, who, between 1935 and 1985, obsessively photographed ships in transit from the port of the city, dreaming of who knows what distances.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Alessandra Pioselli

Celia Hempton

GALLERIA LORCAN O'NEILL
Vicolo dei Catinari 3
February 20–April 19

View of “Celia Hempton,” 2014.

In her first solo exhibition in Italy, Celia Hempton presents thirteen oil-on-canvas works. Their subjects are female and male sex organs, and their titles—Justine, Jo, Eddie, Alex, Caspar, and Kamal, all 2013—are the names of the friends and models who posed for anatomical portraits, either live or via video. These typically hidden body parts are here not only revealed but foregrounded. False modesty is nowhere to be found—just clarity and disarming self-confidence. The use of vivid colors and fluid, soft brushstrokes, which brings to mind the expressive radiance of Fauvism, allows these intimate depictions to lose contact with the dimension of reality from which they’re derived and to enter a more abstract realm. These works’ compositional and chromatic aspects are further emphasized by the broad layers of color that Hempton applies directly to the walls, creating imaginary landscapes that act as a backdrop for the canvases. Because the artist has here intervened on the walls of both the main exhibition space and the project room, the entire installation seems to hold an atmospheric charge. While most of the works address the sexual realm and its cultural significance in contemporary society—where the boundaries between public and private are increasingly blurred and terms such as privacy, confidentiality, and discretion continuously change meaning—one final work, presented in a separate room, takes a different tack by instead investigating nature. A view of the outskirts of Rome—where green areas, still dense with vegetation, resist the advancing urban sprawl—the piece, titled Prenestina, 2014, is a delicate and affectionate homage to the Italy’s capital, where Hempton resided from 2008 to 2010.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Pier Paolo Pancotto

Laurent Montaron

MONITOR | ROME
Palazzo Sforza Cesarini, Via Sforza Cesarini 43a-44
February 27–May 10

Laurent Montaron, Everything We Can Describe Could Be Something Else, 2014, ink-jet print on rag cotton, 47 x 56".

Laurent Montaron examines reality, essentially relying on two investigative systems. One consists of the direct observation of physical and chemical conditions in the natural world; the other considers technological systems, particularly those of the recent past, and their capacity to mechanically reproduce those natural conditions with precision. Through his highly structured typology of works, Montaron visually and acoustically explicates his research. Consistently informing the artist’s creative process, which exists halfway between scientific studies and alchemical formulas, the nature-technology duality occurs in the four pieces, all 2014, on view. One room is dedicated to his film Nature of the Self, in which a sequence of scenes depicting exteriors and interiors, lightness and darkness, is accompanied by a voice that recites a text on themes of identity and human consciousness. In an adjacent room, two photographic prints titled Everything We Can Describe Could Be Something Else, play with the ambiguity of images and our perception of them (the artist’s hands appear like ghosts among the keys of an old synthesizer). Next to these, How Can One Hide from That Which Never Sets? also reflects on principles of vision. A geometric volume enclosed in glass contains a mirror at an oblique angle cut in half, which allows viewers both to see their own reflection and, at the same time, to look beyond. It was created according to a process conceived by Justus von Liebig in 1835 that calls for a thin layer of silver instead of the usual mixture of mercury and tin used to generate reflective surfaces. Behind it, a neon light brings attention to the mirror’s peculiar backside layer. The superimposition of these elements and their hybrid consistency encourage one’s eyes to move continually, once again eliciting questions about the function of the glance and the physical or mental terms for defining it.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Pier Paolo Pancotto

Shannon Ebner

FONDAZIONE MEMMO - ARTE CONTEMPORANEA
Palazzo Ruspoli, Via del Corso 418
March 13–June 27

View of “Shannon Ebner: Auto Body Collision,” 2014.

The Grande Raccordo Anulare (Great Ring Junction) has surrounded Rome’s urban area since 1979. Despite being a crucial roadway to the city, it has never attracted attention for its aesthetics or sociological function. Recently, not only did the motorway become the protagonist of Sacro GRA (2013), winner of the Golden Lion at the Seventieth Venice International Film Festival, but it is also the center of Shannon Ebner’s solo exhibition “Auto Body Collision.” The artist closely explored the junkyards around the city’s orbital highway, developing a discourse that focuses on the notion of ruin. Disrupting a stereotypical representation of Rome’s ancient past, the show recuperates an alternative notion of the abandoned, shedding new light on the discarded.

The contrast between the opulent venue and the minimal forms used by Ebner is evident throughout the exhibition, and is especially pronounced when one enters the room where the work Auto Body Center, 2014, a black-and-white geometric ink-jet print, rests on two cinder blocks under a grandiose frescoed ceiling. In one of the subsequent spaces, photographic images of crushed cars and mechanical pieces present in the junkyards (Auto Body Collision Roma Series I–VIII, 2014) portray a striking and apocalyptic landscape, where the mechanical ruin seems to claim life back. Ink-jet prints of various tools (Instrumentals, 2013), cinder blocks, and elements of language and design (Alignment, Suspension, and Speed, 2014), along with cardboard cutouts resembling car parts (Counter Forms I–V, 2014), follow in the subsequent rooms. Two large-scale text pieces interrupt the flow of images and investigate the relationship between photography and language. Cardboard gray letters positioned on the floor against the wall of the central gallery spell CLASS AUTO CENTER, calling attention to the anthropomorphic nature of the mechanically discharged and to the potential life of the defunctionalized objects. The exhibition ends in a mesmerizing hallway, where a second text work composes the phrase FIRST COLLISION, reflecting itself in the mirrored walls. A collision has certainly occurred: The works perform a new representation of the magniloquent history of the city, reinterpreted through its disavowed. Recuperated into novel constellations, the inanimate inhabitants of the junkyards turn from static to active once again.

Ilaria Gianni

Mircea Cantor

MAGAZZINO
Via dei Prefetti, 17
May 29–July 26

Mircea Cantor, Future Gift, 2014, marble, concrete. Installation view.

Mircea Cantor’s latest exhibition, titled “Ti do la mia giovinezza” (I Give You My Youth), is symbolic of what art and life are capable of expressing. The youth the artist addresses here is not described as personal data, but rather an intellectual dimension that serves as a common denominator for all the works on display.

The installation Cantor conceived for the Kunsthalle Budapest in 2008, which was made up of seven cement volumes of various sizes that depict the contours of gift boxes, is seminal to this show’s grouping, titled Future Gifts (all works 2014), of twenty-one sculptures of equal size and shape in different colors and materials that are scattered on the gallery’s floor. A ribbon, knotted and tied in a bow, in white Carrara marble, black Marquiña marble, or concrete defines each sculpture’s outer shape, while the interior, which would normally include the square gift box, is here left empty. The vacant volume is meant to contain possibility—an idea, a dream, hope—that will someday perhaps materialize and occupy the abandoned space.

The video Regalo (Gift) also refers to the future. In it, a young boy repeats the words “I can’t give you anything,” disarmingly stating the limits imposed by his age and, at the same time, his already developed understanding of the concept of giving. This latter idea is also present in the sculpture L’AM della mia vita (The AM of My Life), in which an ancient coin from the time of Theodosius II (5th century AD) balances on an iron bar of a curved gate. As the abbreviation “a.m.,” from the Latin ante meridiem for before noon, in the title indicates, this work, too, connects back allegorically to the golden age of life and to the artist’s ability to offer it up to those who follow his creations.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Pier Paolo Pancotto

Robert Overby

GALLERIA D'ARTE MODERNA E CONTEMPORANEA DI BERGAMO
Via San Tomaso 53
May 16–July 27

View of “Robert Overby,” 2014.

Robert Overby’s oeuvre is a disenchanted reflection on the relationship between time and matter—a relationship the American artist has long rendered poetic with his sensitive investigations. This traveling retrospective curated by Alessandro Rabottini includes twenty-three pieces, created between 1969 and 1987, and conveys the complexity of an eclectic and polysemous artistic practice maintained by a figure who existed outside of the main channels of 1970s Conceptual art. While Overby’s graphic work reveals an aptitude for assembling a diversity of texts and images—he trained as a graphic designer in postwar America—it is his transition to sculpture that resulted in his contributions to the ongoing discourse surrounding materials and the object. For the artist, from 1969 on, these concerns took the form of paintings, drawings, installations, and sculptures, wherein the technique of casting and architectural relief became expressive tools, as his use of perishable industrial materials examined the fissures of time. The exhibition includes examples such as the polyester-and-resin-cast Blue Screen Door, 1971, as well as latex and rubber panels from the “Barclay House Series,” 1971, twenty-eight casts of various architectural details that remained after a hotel was destroyed by a fire. The casts are as charged with physical and emotional energy as his oil-on-canvas works (Untitled [Monk Restoration], 1973), his collages (Untitled [Montage #4], 1976), and his lithographs (Untitled [Poli] Print 1, 1974). The artist explored this range of techniques with abandon over the course of his career, ceaselessly juxtaposing conceptual attitudes with a figurative vocabulary. The exhibition at GAMeC conveys the intimate, introspective aspects of his works, and its thematic categories—identity, Eros, the body, and the object—initiate a debate about the fate of various artworks brought together in exhibition, but it also prompts insight into the nature of objects that have been sculpted by the passage of time as well as by the artist’s hand.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Paola Nicolin

Luca Trevisani

MUSEO MARINO MARINI
Piazza di San Pancrazio
March 22–May 10

Luca Trevisani, Glaucocamaleo, 2014, five screen video installation.

Luca Trevisani’s spectacular five-channel video installation, Glaucomelo, 2014, is installed in the lower galleries of the Museo Marino Marini, rooms the Florentine institution has set aside for work by young artists. Trevisani’s previous output has examined matter moving through various states. In this particular piece, water traverses different stages of rarefaction and condensation. The work seems to be a pretext the artist uses to more generally address the rhythm of a material that wheezes like a breath, opening up and then compressing.

The film was presented at the 2013 Rome International Film Festival and was followed by a book and, now, this installation. Trevisani typically works on a large scale. He often uses a Red Epic digital camera, collaborates with a film crew—including a director of photography, an assistant director, and electricians—and he has had the support of film producers. The generative process of this project is revealing: Trevisani had shot a tremendous amount of video, which he then edited, first into a film and then into this installation. The two works present different if visually similar scenes. And while the film claims to be narrative, the installation instead activates an environment in which the viewer is totally involved and where the sounds offered are manipulations of field recordings made where filming occurred. The setting also becomes a synesthetic site—images and sounds activate other senses as well.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Marco Tagliafierro

Superstudio

PINKSUMMER
Palazzo Ducale - Cortile Maggiore, Piazza Matteotti 28r
March 21–June 6

Superstudio, La Moglie di Lot (Lot's Wife), 1978/2014, zinc coated steel, wood, salt, refractory material, Plexiglas, 10 x 2 x 4'.

Superstudio was a sui generis architectural studio. Like other major players in the international movement that Germano Celant called “radical architecture,” its members were interested not in constructing buildings to add to those that already existed, but rather in debating the very idea of architecture through theoretical writings and deliberately unbuildable projects, ambiguously suspended between utopia and dystopia, dream and nightmare. Superstudio’s production consists of collages, films, and more or less paradoxical design objects, a small selection of which are presented here. Then there are installations, such as La moglie di Lot (Lot’s Wife), the centerpiece of the exhibition. First shown at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 1978, it had been lost but has been recreated with care for this occasion. On an austere structure of zinc-plated metal and Plexiglas, five sculptures made from salt, lined up in a row; they depict examples of architecture from throughout history, from a pyramid to Le Corbusier’s Pavillon de l’esprit nouveau (Pavilion of the New Spirit), 1925. The sculptures are slowly corroded by drops of water that fall from an intravenous drip apparatus; as they dissolve, they each reveal a symbolic object enclosed within; for example, a salt model of the Palace of Versailles ultimately discloses a croissant, a reference to Marie Antoinette’s notorious suggestion that the people should “eat brioche.”

In the text that accompanied La moglie di Lot in its original incarnation (just republished by Asinello Press), Superstudio attributed a dual significance to the work: on the one hand, a reflection on the way that time acts on architecture, eroding its function in ways unforeseen by the architects and their patrons, while allowing only its symbolic meaning—although sometimes deeply transformed—to survive; on the other hand, a warning that architecture, presuming to impose itself on nature and its laws, is instead swept away by those same forces. Whichever interpretation one favors, the work remains relevant; indeed, during a period such as our own, characterized by outsized and meaningless architecture and disturbing ecological catastrophes, it is all too resonant.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Simone Menegoi

Pádraig Timoney

MADRE (DONNAREGINA CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM), NAPOLI
Palazzo Donnaregina, via Settembrini, 79
February 7–May 12

View of “Pádraig Timoney,” 2014.

Curated by Alessandro Rabottini, this careful selection of Pádraig Timoney’s paintings, sculptures, installations, and photographs marks his debut solo exhibition at a public institution and is particularly noteworthy for its clear and concise presentation. The erudite installation also reveals key themes of Timoney’s output, which he largely developed in Naples, where he lived from 2004 to 2011, before moving to New York. Dense with cultural references to avant-garde and neo-avant-garde movements, the exhibition manifests the artist’s interests in language and materials in a selection of more than fifty works made over the past twenty years.

The show opens with a reconstruction of Timoney’s 1994 solo show at Raucci/Santamaria Gallery in Naples, with works that vary in style, medium, and subject—from still lifes to landscapes, and from figurative to abstract scenes. These pieces occupy a room where the walls have been painted silver using fire extinguishers that are, in turn, on display as readymades. Subsequent rooms consider themes such as the idea of doubling (as in Warning, 1994, two photographic versions of the same image of an actress); color studies (see Bombed coral, 2010, a chromatic kaleidoscope created using rabbit skin glue, pigment, ink, and oil paint on canvas); and reflections on spirituality (as in Capass, 2010, an depiction of a Neapolitan interior in India ink that celebrates the sacred nature of daily life). These examples, along with many others, confirm the pronounced versatility of Timoney’s sui generis art. Though his work is deeply eclectic it is always consistent in substance, continuously reflecting on the expressive potential of painting.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Pier Paolo Pancotto