FONDAZIONE PRADA, Milan Osservatorio
21 Feb – 22 Jul 2019

Fondazione Prada presents “Surrogati. Un amore ideale” (Surrogate. A Love Ideal), an exhibition curated by Melissa Harris, from 21 February to 22 July 2019 at the Osservatorio venue in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan. Comprising a selection of 42 photographic works by Jamie Diamond (Brooklyn, USA, 1983) and Elena Dorfman (Boston, USA, 1965), the project explores the notions of familial, romantic and sexual love. Both artists focus on a specific and unconventional aspect of this universal theme: the emotional link between a man or a woman and a synthetic representation of a human. As explained by Melissa Harris, “together, Diamond’s and Dorfman’s work presented in ‘Surrogati’ vividly and nonjudgmentally documents the interactions of humans with their lifelike, inanimate companions.”

In her series “Forever Mothers” (2012-2018) and “Nine Months of Reborning” (2014), Jamie Diamond documented the life of an outsider art making community called the Reborners, a group of self-taught female artists who hand-make, collect and interact with hyper-realistic dolls that fulfill a desire for motherhood. In her other exhibited project titled “I Promise to be a Good Mother” (2007-2012), Diamond played the role of a perfect mother, dressing up in her own mother’s clothes and interacting with Annabelle, a reborn doll. Inspired by and named after a diary she kept as a girl, the project evolved into an exploration of the complexity of social stereotypes and cultural conventions that surround and shape the relationship between mother and child.

“Still Lovers” (2001-04), a series of photographs that brought Elena Dorfman international acclaim, focuses on the domestic lives of men and women who devote themselves to lifesize, anatomically realistic sex dolls. Her photographs explore the emotional ties between humans and perfectly formed synthetic women, forcing us to evaluate our own notions of love and the value of an object that has the power to replace a human being. The artist’s interest was not to exploit the deviancy of these sexual surrogates, but rather to reveal the fascinating world of intimacy between flesh and silicone. Both photographers portrayed these lifelike surrogates as desired, fetishized, and idealized beings, “living” as such with their flesh and blood mothers and partners, and sometimes with their immediate families as well. As stated by Melissa Harris, “by showing these vignettes of traditional domesticity, love, and/or eroticism, Dorfman’s and Diamond’s representations take on an unexpected poignancy.”

All images > “Surrogati. Un amore ideale” Osservatorio Fondazione Prada. Photo: Mattia Balsamini

AGAINST COLOUR STROKE VECTORS at Massimo De Carlo gallery, Milan

AGAINST COLOUR STROKE VECTORS at Massimo De Carlo gallery, Milan

Massimo De Carlo, Milan, Belgioioso
From May 29 to July 12, 2019

Massimo De Carlo presents Against Colour Stroke Vectors presenting works by Günther Förg, Mario Merz, Emilio Vedova and Mary Weatherford. The exhibition brings together seminal works by each artist, with the aim to investigate the variations of the relationship between the dynamism of the medium, the spatial degrees of object-hood in the context of the canvas, and qualities of colour. All artists on display have, consciously or unconsciously, explored ideational, interpersonal or textual functions of the canvas and the work of art: from Förg’s daunting and materic bronze to Merz’s 1980’s investigations of nature, to Vedova’s propulsive energy and Mary Weatherford’s echoing glass light tubes – the discourse can always be drawn back to the complex yet unstructured space between thought and action. Absolute and infinite, void and darkness, gesture and logic, light and dimensionality are tangible in each work in the exhibition.

The two works on display by German artist Günther Förg, belonging to two different bodies of work, embody the artist’s reflections on spatiality and materials. In the bronze painting in the first room, a material that the artist started using in the late 1980’s, the artist challenges and evolves from the stereotypical notion of canvas by using bronze: the result is that these dimensional pieces have an immersive character, where the painterly gesture combined with the physicality of bronze draws the viewer to a reflection on the sublime and sobriety. The grey painting in the second room is part of a larger group of works that Förg first executed in 1973 continuing through to his death in 2013: these elegant, dense works showcase not only the artist’s evolving relationship with the monochrome, but also embody the multiple material and conceptual concerns found elsewhere across his broad practice.

In the second room, the viewer is confronted with a large-scale canvas by the Italian painter Emilio Vedova, that through Per la Spagna Nr. 14 (1962) expresses his radical stances on both paint and politics – combining his avant-garde techniques of exploring the dynamism of the painterly action between light and space to the desire to convey a message. The work is part of a cycle that the artist created for the 1962 exhibition organized at Ca ’Giustinian, in Venice, during the Biennale d’Arte. The canvas is aggressively covered in black and white oil marks and abstract symbols, a physical and creative answer to the spectacle of violence offered by the twentieth century, in this case in particular dedicated to Spain that at the time was living in dark times – under the helm of the dictator Francisco Franco. Mary Weatherford offers a contemporary reading of artists that use light and materials. In the second room, there is one of Weatherford’s signature works: a large abstract canvas is almost cut in half by a neon glass tube. The paintings are made using vinyl-based Flashe paint on linen canvasses made especially for the artist at a Belgian mill, and the neon tube is always made to order. The paintings are essentially invisible to the artist as she is working; only emerging after the canvas has dried. “Because the water reflects, I can’t really see what’s going to happen. It’s a quite a mystery,” Weatherford explained. “As the water dries overnight and the pigment sinks into the painting, it’s like watching a photograph develop. I come in the next morning and the image is there.” The combination of chance and manipulation is key in Mary Weatherford’s oeuvre that documents the orchestrated flow of organic material, where the artist alternates meticulous research to the creations of chance.

Iconic Italian artist Mario Merz, one of the key exponents of the Arte Povera movement, in his career explored the transmission of energy from the organic to the inorganic, using uncanny irony and the Shade of conceptualism to transform each thought into a vocabulary of sculptures and paintings. The small canvas in the reading room and the sculpture in the first symbolize Merz’s research of the late seventies- early eighties around the relationship between nature, logic and the varieties of gestures that can be encapsulated into art. Accumulation, reconfiguration and dynamism are some of the subjects that the eclectic artist conveyed into paintings and installations that capture force and delicacy and the wilderness of thought with the rigour of logic.

All images > Courtesy ©Massimo De Carlo gallery 




A Arte Invernizzi, Milan

23 May – 19 July 2019

Riccardo De Marchi presents his most recent works in a new exhibition installation specially created for the A arte Invernizzi gallery space. By using the Greek term opé – which can be translated as “hole“ or “opening“, but also as “sight“ or “eye socket“ – the title of the exhibition conveys the idea of vision “through“ a hole, or holes. In his works, as in the case of 12 pagine [12 Pages] and 9 pagine [9 Pages], on display in the first room on the upper floor, the artist perforates the material to create a continuous contrast between surface and volume, presence and absence. The perforation-script shows the traces of its passing in a journey that is both mental and metaphorical, as well as physical. De Marchi repeatedly brings to bear different ways of seeing, partly depending on the material used, as we see in the installation in the second room on the upper floor. Here, some steel works in the form of sheets rolled on themselves are placed on the ground.

Riccardo De Marchi, Partial view of the exhibition, 2019. A arte Invernizzi, Milan. Courtesy A arte Invernizzi, Milan

The artist‘s line of investigation, in which visual features emerge from carefully controlled and repeated gestures that nevertheless always lead to new results and countless new ways of seeing, continues on the lower floor of the gallery. Here the holes bring to life surfaces in aluminium, plexiglas, steel, and polyethylene, creating works such as the Senza titolo[Untitled] (2019) and ...Attraverso… […Through…] (2018). The spatial and material consistency of his art is even more evident in works such as Muro [Wall] (2019) and Nessun dove [Nowhere] (2019), in which a juxtaposition of different elements placed next to each other, as in the case of the “bricks“, or on top of each other, alternating sheets of plexiglas with mirror-finish stainless steel, intensify our perception of a space filled with different volumes of solids and voids, giving the image concrete form in a vision of even greater diversity.

CARSTEN HÖLLER, MUSHROOM MATHEMATICS / Massimo De Carlo, Milan, Belgioioso

CARSTEN HÖLLER, MUSHROOM MATHEMATICS / Massimo De Carlo, Milan, Belgioioso

16 Nov 2018 – 12 Jan 2019
Massimo De Carlo, Milan, Belgioioso

Massimo De Carlo presents Mushroom Mathematics, a new exhibition by Carsten Höller. The artist returns to Italy having presented The Florence Experiment at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence earlier this year. With a similar scientific approach, Carsten Höller premieres a series of sculptures and paintings that transform the gallery into a doubt machine.

Upon entering the first room of the gallery we are confronted with a large vitrine that accommodates 48 replicas of mushrooms in various colours, sizes, and shapes each composed by one half Fly-agaric and the second half made up of edible, inedible, or poisonous mushrooms. The Fly-agaric mushroom (also known as Amanita muscaria) is an important element in cultural history: it holds poisonous and psychoactive properties and it is widely used in shamanic rites. This extraordinary mushroom has also become a symbol for the unexpected as it appears in fairy tales, early Walt Disney movies, and even in videogames such as Super Mario Bros. In the Victorian Age these mushrooms started to appear also on Christmas cards and therefore it is believed they even have affected the representation of Santa Claus (before Coca-Cola would turn this character into a red-and-white-dressed commercial machine).

A similar dissection returns also in the main room of the gallery, populated by a series of Giant Triple Mushrooms that pop-up from the historical floor of Palazzo Belgioioso. These spectacular sculptures are composed of one-half Fly-agaric and two-quarters of other mushrooms. These mysterious vegetal elements (scientists still have many unanswered questions about them) are for Carsten Höller, the icon of uncertainty, ambiguity, as well as a symbol for an endless tension towards research: mushrooms not only open our mind to unpredictable effects, but they do so by living and reproducing in mostly incomprehensible ways.

The giant sculptures are surrounded by a number of round, square and diamond paintings of the same size realized in different colours. These Division Paintings are based on a simple mathematical partition principle: a line is painted on the canvas surface at the centre, splitting it into two parts of the exact same size. One section is subsequently divided again into two new halves, and following this geometric pattern, the canvas is divided over and over again. These paintings, with their clean and accessible appearance, exemplify a simple path to achieve infinity, the most complex of the concepts.

The minimalist L Platform, stands in stark contrast of the reading room, an accessible tin platform with turning circles, the diameter of each circle is calculated according to the overall dimensions of the platform. The arrangement of circles follows a principle of division lines, in which the centre of each following circle is at the spot where two lines meet. The final circle missing and left open.

Inhabited by giant and life-size mushrooms and abstract linear paintings, Mushroom Mathematics is a combination of geometry and magic, code and invention, rationality and the absurd, and invites everyone to explore new methods of understanding.

Images > Installation views Massimo De Carlo, Milan-Belgioioso, 2018. Ph. Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Massimo De Carlo

NATURE KNOWS NO PAUSE / Massimo de Carlo, Milan

NATURE KNOWS NO PAUSE / Massimo de Carlo, Milan

Nature Knows No Pause Gerhard Richter, Giuseppe Penone, Lee Ufan, Alexandre Calame, Francois Diday, Johan Christian Dahl, Caspar David Friedrich, Hiroshi Sugimoto 

to 13 Jul 2018

The exhibition Nature Knows No Pause takes its title from a celebre quote by the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and focuses on the enticing and vibrant dynamism of nature and how our relationship with the natural has evolved. If initially human beings feared and respected the power of nature, now it seems that they do everything possible to overpower its force. The exhibition is structured as a small survey of how landscapes, natural elements and earthly powers have been depicted by artists from the 19th century to today. The art works in the exhibition range from 1800 to 2018, with significant loans from institutions and foundations as well as new productions realized specifically for this context. In this exhibition the investigation of nature as a sense of being commences with works by European romantic artists: an overpowering shipwreck scenery by the Norwegian painter Johan Christian Dahl (1788-1857) is shown alongside melancholic mountain landscapes depicted by the one-eyed Swiss master Alexandre Calame (1810 – 1864) and by Calame’s less-known yet outstanding mentor François Diday (1802-1877). A dusk-tinted ink drawing of a rocky forest by the Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) one of the most influential Romantic German painters of all time, who also happened to live for a while with Dahl, is paired with an enticing still life, a black and white photograph of a Pinon-Juniper Forest (a type of vegetation that is typical of the Western United States), by the internationally acclaimed Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto (1948).

The photograph is from his well-known series inspired by the man-made diorama of landscapes at the Natural History Museum in New York, which the artist visited initially in 1976, and the first body of work that began his career. The image, strikingly devoid of man, could easily portray a distant past before the advent of humanity, just as easily as one of the future. This investigation of duration, and struggle between the natural and the artificial, continues through out the exhibition. Lee Ufan’s (1936) rock and steel sculptures are a tangible example of the Korean, though Japan based, minimalist painter and sculptor’s practice which is rooted in an Eastern appreciation of the nature of materials and also in modern European phenomenology, a constant reflection around the notions of being and nothingness.

The work was conceived specifically for the exhibition, and introduces a new material of stainless steel to his practice. An extremely rare example of a landscape drawing by the German visual artist, master of abstraction and realism, Gerhard Richter (1932) that dates back to 1992 is an example of the artist’s ability “to keep meaning on the move, to hide it, change it, multiple it, undermine it, all the while couching these feints and thrusts in visually ingratiating forms.  The instability in this petite drawing provides its power. Nature Knows No Pause includes works by the iconic Italian artist Giuseppe Penone (1947), founding member of the Arte Povera movement, who has focused his entire practice on the relationship between man and nature.

Pinewood, timber, tree trunks, cedars and conifers (among others) are key elements in Penone’s practice: the artist carves, casts and juxtaposes industrial and natural elements to create a physical narrative that highlights the pace of human time and the slow disclosure of organic growth and change. Nature Knows No Pause is homage to different ways of seeing and depicting nature. Using the works of Caspar David Friedrich as a starting point, the exhibition allows a reflection on the relationship between romanticism and nature in contemporary art and on how our ever-changing bond with nature can be translated through an array of diverse mediums.

Images © Massimo De Carlo Gallery – Milan, London, Hong Kong





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