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Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro
Via Vigevano 9
September 20, 2017–October 27, 2017

Alis/Filliol, eud, 2017, polyurethane foam, wire mesh, fog machine, dimensions variable.

The dark, silent space is dense with fog. Visitors move about circumspectly, their eyes adjusting to the darkness. Suddenly, a large sculpture of indefinite shape emerges, which seems to move and vibrate within the gray material. Then, a second shape appears, vibrating obliquely like the first. The latter form has two heads, seeming to whisper to each other, while the former, as it grows perceptible, looks acephalous or perhaps decapitated, its head resting at its feet. Both representations, simultaneously human and monstrous, gradually reveal themselves, their threatening stances directed not toward the viewer but toward each other. Rivals, they face off in the space—and over the meaning of space—as Auguste Rodin and Medardo Rosso did at the end of the nineteenth century, their different positions ultimately renewing sculpture.

The impressive dueling elements of Alis/Filliol (an Italian artistic duo comprising Davide Gennarino and Andrea Respino) quote Rosso’s The Bookmaker, 1894, and Rodin’s Monument to Balzac, 1898, and seem to change along with the visitor’s shifting viewpoint. Although the heads arranged in the sculptures realistically reproduce those of Rodin and Rosso, they are, nonetheless, hybrid and disturbing creatures. The fog defines the space, makes the figures dynamic, and brings viewers back to atmospheres that captivated so many Impressionists. Continuing their investigation into the contemporary possibilities of figurative sculpture and the human figure specifically, the artists here use polyurethane foam. Their show’s title, “eud,” is the word due (two) backwards. Alis/Filliol’s careful mix of elements produces compactness and tension, adding surprise to their intriguing installation.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Michela Moro

Diego Ibarra Sánchez

Mudima Lab
Via A. Tadino 20
October 11, 2017–November 25, 2017

Diego Ibarra Sánchez, Hijacked Education, Zahlé, Lebanon, December 16, 2016, 2016 ink-jet print, 7 7/8 x 11 7/8".

“Hijacked Education,” featuring photographs by Diego Ibarra Sánchez, is the third in a series of six exhibitions titled “GUERRE” (WARS) that Mudima Lab is devoting to freelance war photojournalism. Sanchez began the exhibited project in Pakistan in 2009, in part as a means of documenting and denouncing the catastrophic effects of the region’s conflicts on the fate of children living in these war zones. Sánchez documented the violent Taliban campaign against education, which focused in particular on the suppression of girls’ schooling and culminated in the attack on the young activist Malala Yousafzai in 2012. The photographer moved to Lebanon in 2014 and then on to Iraq and Syria, where hundreds of schools have been destroyed, abandoned, or transformed into shelters by ISIS militia; classrooms stand empty, their walls pierced by bullets; the university library in Mosul has been burned down. Sánchez bears witness to the desolation that remains where young people once gathered—venues for learning—tracing in that squalor the unhealable wound inflicted on an entire generation.

The photos are predominantly blue in hue: walls of deserted classrooms, the nocturnal light of winter in temporary settlements; gloomy tones emanate from these joyless places, as in Hijacked Education, 2016. From Sánchez’s sorrowful and austere awareness, similar to that of Alfredo Jaar in confronting the disasters of war, there emerges a human empathy for his subjects’ wretched fates. Hovering over all these works is a question central to Sánchez’s practice: What is the meaning of such suffering?

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Ida Panicelli

Osvaldo Licini

Galleria Tega
Via Senato, 20
September 26, 2017–November 30, 2017

Osvaldo Licini, Personaggio Olandese volante (Flying Dutchman Character), 1945, oil on canvas laid on panel, 9 x 11".

I segni dell’angelo” (“Signs of the Angel”) offers an unusual and valuable opportunity to retrace the rich, multifaceted creative trajectory of Osvaldo Licini, one of the most significant Italian artists working in the first half of the twentieth century. Around forty works lead viewers through various phases of the artist’s inimitable visual vocabulary, which conjoins abstraction and Surrealism, rationality and poetic invention, sign-laden constructions and chromatic emotions.

The show begins with abstract works exhibited in the artist’s first solo show in Italy, at the Galleria del Milione in Milan in 1935, following a long sojourn in Paris where, beginning in 1917, Licini had associated with various members of the international avant-garde, most notably Amedeo Modigliani and Pablo Picasso. Seemingly aerial figures in asymmetrical, deliberately unstable compositions, in which a sense of balance seems fleeting, often take on symbolic connotations. During the early 1940s, these scenes of suspension transformed into a new approach of fantastical figuration, always based on lightness and instability, even while possessing counterpoints of bold chromaticity. Licini’s world is populated by imaginary figures that seem to seep through a haze, appearing in (often nocturnal) skies above softly rendered horizons. They inhabit a realm both delineated with landscape elements and tinged with eroticism, traversed by moons, missiles, and ghostly vessels, sometimes punctuated with enigmatic letters and numbers. There are figures representing both Amalasuntha, the sixth-century Ostrogoth queen, and lunar symbols of regeneration flowering in her hands, eyes, hearts, and breasts—as well as Wagnerian Flying Dutchmen and rebel angels, both celestial and demonic, midway between ascent and fall.

Along a path through the exhibition enhanced by a selection of wonderful works on paper, in which sinuous symbols cause the slender figures, held aloft, to throb with life, these quivering visions finally move visitors through time to 1958, the year of the artist’s death, only a few months after he won first prize for painting at the Venice Biennale.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Francesca Pola

Gerasimos Floratos

via Privata Don Bartolomeo Grazioli, 73
November 21, 2017–January 20, 2018

View of “Gerasimos Floratos,” 2017.

Gerasimos Floratos, who was born in New York City in 1986 and grew up in an apartment overlooking Times Square, self-assuredly fills the gallery’s space with large-scale paintings and three sculptures, all made with bold and decisive hues, and all vaguely reminiscent of street art. The paintings hint at figuration without coalescing into a linear narrative. Their emotive bodies are alter egos for Floratos, who develops his own personal language and pursues an internal investigation of sorts through the canvases. His research is protean, the bodies he depicts are in transit, and his visual vocabulary consistently seems to expand to include new terms. A careful look at the large paintings’ abstract elements reveals both reflexive understandings of the body, and an almost morphological representation of mental states.

Floratos produced most of the works on view in his grandmother’s former café in Kefalonia, Greece, which he transformed into a studio. While his process does not seem to involve pentimento, it is nonetheless a slow and pensive one. For his first solo show in Italy he has chosen Armada, an artist-run space; wanting fewer ties to canonical gallery rituals, he sought and found here a venue that would let him deploy both generosity and a light touch in allowing us to journey through his mental processes.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Michela Moro

Vlatka Horvat

Renata Fabbri Arte Contemporanea
Via Stoppani 15 C
November 20, 2017–January 20, 2018

Vlatka Horvat, Fixed Holes, 2017, cardboard, felt, adhesive tape, 1 1/4 x 59 x 57".

For her first exhibition in Italy, Croatian artist Vlatka Horvat has installed eleven works across the gallery’s two floors. “Surroundings” pays homage to the horizon, as both a spatial boundary and a goal to which one can aspire, ideologically and physically. The show’s natural path opens with two wooden tables created in 2016, titled Set Right (Table Leg) and Set Right (Tabletop). Reduced to structural skeletons, they boast delicate additions of ribbonlike cardboard, attached with white adhesive tape, as if to conjure missing parts. At Some Length, 2017, is a straight line at eye level, more than twenty-five feet long, composed of knotted rubber bands and cotton threads. Despite its materials’ fragility, the piece evokes the severity of barbed wire. Fixed Holes, 2017, meanwhile, comprises six rings of cardboard overlapping three squares of colored felt with circular punch-outs, the negative space echoing the cardboard loops’ round forms. The ambiguous composition suggests a rudimentary demarcation of territory while also conjuring some sort of lagoon.

Landscapes become concrete in the five photographs in the series “Tree Line,” 2017. Each image depicts the same fir trees reflected in a lake, but the artist’s collage interventions create disturbing filters over the pristine scenes. Elsewhere, Fractions, 2017, presents wooden doorstops arranged in a starburst pattern. And in “End in Sight,” 2017, a series of seven black-and-white photographic collages melding portraiture and landscape, the human figure is always partially truncated, even while the horizon line appears preserved across the fragmented images.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Maria Chiara Valacchi

Bruno Querci

A arte Invernizzi
Via D. Scarlatti 12
November 21–January 31

View of “Bruno Querci,” 2017.

Painting light as an energy emanating from form: This is the goal that has guided the creative progress of Bruno Querci for over four decades. That objective that also emerges from this two-story exhibition comprising seminal works from the 1980s as well as great recent works all made for the occasion. Querci’s output, particularly from those earlier years, is presented as an alternative to dominant neo-expressionist trends, focusing instead on scaling back as a means of rediscovering painting’s fundamental aspects, particularly via the elementary, dynamic relationship between black and white.

Ideally contextualized in traditions of treating visual material as pure energy—rooted in the Suprematism of Kazimir Malevich and the black depths of Ad Reinhardt as well as the spatial rips of Lucio Fontana and the luminous articulations of Francesco Lo Savio, Querci renders vision’s essence almost tangible in the light. Hence the title of the exhibition, “Energicoforma,” which hints at the indivisibility of shape from its intrinsic, almost physiological energy. Querci excavates black forms against white grounds—first irregular and later more geometric—or vice versa, as if to represent an infinite realm wherein light is a concrete and generative component of space. Polarizing these two non-colors, he intends not so much to create perceptual illusions of depth and surface, but rather to give his images almost a dense, corporeal form. Light, shape, and energy: These are the primal points of reference guiding the construction and the physical rhythms of his painting, in the alternation of white and black as energy radiating outward intermittently, as if forming interweaving strata.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Francesca Pola

Betty Woodman

Galleria Lorcan O'Neill
Vicolo dei Catinari 3
October 20, 2017–November 18, 2017

Betty Woodman, Outside and In, 2017, glazed earthenware, epoxy resin, lacquer, acrylic paint, canvas, wood, 75 1/2 x 119 x 10 1/2"

In recent works claiming both the territory of painting and sculpture, Betty Woodman pushes the boundaries of her chosen medium, ceramics, and her work seems here fresher and freer than ever. The artist challenges notions of likeness, mixing real objects and their representations, always maintaining her sense of humor on high frequencies. Her signature vases, plates, and pitchers dialogue with painted trompe l’oeil interiors: Sitting in the round on shelves, the vases appear again on the canvas as two-dimensional shapes, or even as their own incongruously painted shadows. In one of her most compelling works, Country Dining Room, 2015, a painted table rendered with a striking diagonal inclination juts out on its lower end into three dimensions, becoming a pedestal for glazed jars, while flat ceramic cups and plates appear on its checkered tablecloth. Our focus needs to adjust to a constant play between foreground and background in order to reconstruct the objects and make sense of their distorted proportions. The spatial complexity of these compositions is even more acute in Outside and In, 2017. Woodman lets ceramic shards seemingly fly away on the wall, denying the limitations of the canvas and of gravity, and taking possession of the surrounding space with a dash of bravery.

Woodman has never been so daring: Her idiosyncratic point of view skews into puzzling perspectives, causing raised floors, walls, and doors to intersect at unnatural angles. We peer into her joyfully colored domestic interiors, but it’s like looking into rooms that Matisse painted under the influence of a hallucinatory drug. It’s a roller coaster for the eyes, but a pleasant one for sure.

Ida Panicelli

Mircea Cantor

Fondazione Giuliani
via Gustavo Bianchi, 1
October 13, 2017–December 16, 2017

Mircea Cantor, Disrupted Air (Still Life), 2017, Spathiphyllum, newspapers, dimensions variable.

A charged olfactory environment meets visitors to Mircea Cantor’s latest show. The perfume of Aleppo soap fills one’s nostrils: a unique smell, indelible for those who have walked at least once through Syrian souks.

In addition to the soap, water and peace lilies, which are known to purify the air, (in Disrupted Air (Still Life), 2017) fill Cantor’s exhibition. The artist seems to create a hymn to rebirth, framing it as an indispensable contemporary condition. But for Cantor, that restoration is also a consequence of ruin and loss—of heritage, traditions, sociopolitical equanimity, freedom, and innocence. The soap takes the form of large columns representing the archetype of a menhir, their tortile shapes resembling architectural elements of Solomon’s Temple. There are four such soap columns in total, of different hues and orientations: Two stand erect, one leans sideways, bursting through an elastic trampoline sprinkled with debris, and one lies flat on the ground (Vertical Aleppo, Diagonal Aleppo, and Horizontal Aleppo, all 2017). In Hand Fountain, 2017, meanwhile, digital and organic elements collide, as a video shot with a thermal camera appears within a well containing water.

Paradox and bitter irony are recurrent themes in Cantor’s practice. A definitive example of these interests is one wall work that seemingly either opens or closes the show: The World Belongs to Those Who Set It on Fire, 2016. Here, the shadowy continents of a world map turn out to have been burnt into the paper with candle smoke—an effective, and incisive, explanation of international politics.

Marta Silvi

“È solo un inizio. 1968”

Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
Viale delle Belle Arti 131
October 3, 2017–January 14, 2018

View of “è solo un inizio. 1968” (It’s Just a Beginning. 1968), 2017.

Nestled within a synchronistic and refreshing reinstallation of the permanent collection of Rome’s Galleria Nazionale (spearheaded by the museum’s director Cristiana Collu), the current exhibition “È solo un inizio. 1968” (It’s Just a Beginning. 1968) would even be worth visiting for no reason other than its surroundings. However, the real strength of curator Ester Coen’s meditation on a moment of broad social and artistic upheaval is the degree to which it allows physical realities to function as metaphors for political ones. Thus, as the double entendre of Mario Merz’s 1968 Sit-In reminds us, to occupy is both a political and a spatial act. Many of the works gesture toward this notion—from Alighiero Boetti’s well-known early map pieces to Luciano Fabro’s Three Ways of Arranging the Sheets, 1968, and Giovanni Anselmo’s Direzione, 1967–68, an abstract sculpture that points north. That the work of the female artists in the exhibition—Marisa Merz, Eva Hesse, Joan Jonas, Yayoi Kusama, Diane Arbus, and Carla Cerati—appears in auxiliary spaces adjacent to the central hall underscores the inescapable imbrication of place and power.

Questions of industry, containment, and reflection are also in play throughout the exhibition, and similarities resonate between seemingly disparate works, such that Diane Arbus’s New Yorkers could be mistaken for Italians if they weren’t already so iconic. The show’s sensitive installation re-creates the environmental aesthetic of the late 1960s, with its characteristic syncopated scatterings. Sparse didactic texts add to the formalist bent of an exhibition putatively about politics, while also facilitating a seamless integration between artists representing diverse movements within Italy (Arte Povera and Scuola di Piazza del Popolo, primarily) and elsewhere.

Leslie Cozzi

Massimo Bartolini

Magazzino Roma
Via dei Prefetti, 17
November 29–January 31

Massimo Bartolini, Pensive Bodhisattva (detail), 2017, enamel on galvanized iron, hydraulic motor, electronic control unit, bronze, 98 x 197 x 197".

Massimo Bartolini has a history of interrogating notions of absence and presence—and here he approaches his subjects from different emotional and conceptual angles, such as the longing for a distant lover or the effacement of a writer’s identity. All of his works point to contradictions of the real and how much we invest in and identify with our beliefs.

The two most impressive works in this exhibition mix Asian and European spiritual symbols with a minimalist rationalism. The Cartesian order of Pensive Bodhisattva, 2017, a large-scale iron structure, features an antique Korean statue of a Bodhisattva sitting in meditation that disappears and resurfaces every twenty-five minutes from a central, plinth-like construction. It alludes to those awakened ones who get reincarnated throughout the ages in order to bring back the Buddha’s teachings for the liberation of all sentient beings. Two schools of thought are at play here: the assertion of a thinking, logical mind and “no-mind,” or a state of pure selflessness. This contrast causes Eastern and Western ideas surrounding identity and oneness to collide.

Bartolini’s most touching and profound work, My Seventh Homage: La Montaigne, 2016—four photographic prints retouched with charcoal—depict a flat-topped hill, described by the artist as Golgotha, against a dark, gloomy background. Seen from four different perspectives, this seemingly solid form becomes a void. The missing cross upon which Christ was crucified reveals the illusory nature of religion but provides us with a clear space for the cultivation of a more intimate spirituality inherent to all humans, devoid of icons.

Ida Panicelli

Delia Gonzalez

Via Chiaia 229
November 17, 2017–January 12, 2018

Delia Gonzalez, Jupiter, 2017, graphite, acrylic paint, and gold leaf on paper, 29 1/2 x 29 1/2".

In her second solo show in this Neapolitan space, Delia Gonzalez firmly maintains the infrastructure of her artistic dynamic: the electronic music, the dance floor, the boundary between the personal and the universal, and a language that deliberately eludes categorization as it sows seeds of disquietude.

A postapocalyptic atmosphere pervades the gallery. The suffused pink, acidic light generated by the neon The Last Days of Pompeii (all works cited, 2017) and the hypnotic original sound track by Gonzalez, Vesuvius, converge to create a club-like setting bordering on ironic. In certain ways, this is a political show—by referencing the famously submerged city, the artist draws a comparison to the social situation of her native country, the United States, after the election of Donald Trump, an event which pushed Gonzalez to once again leave the US. Her two totem-like sculptures, The Osiris Gate I and II, create a reflection in relief of two of the gallery’s doorways. This intervention makes it seem as if the exhibition was impacted by a telluric movement, opening up a gap to a new dimension.

In the second room, the atmosphere is quieter, with six mesmerizing and magnetic drawings, including Jupiter and Don’t Exclude the Moon, referencing classical proportions, materials, and details through the use of gold leaf and trompe l’oeil marble surfaces. The circular forms of these works are also an homage to the moon, which is reinforced by author Matilde Cerruti Quara’s poetic closing to the text she wrote for the show: “A full moon . . . the power of the eternal, and of the ethereal.”

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Adriana Rispoli

Anita Leisz

Norma Mangione Gallery
Via Matteo Pescatore 17
November 5, 2017–December 23, 2017

Anita Leisz, Untitled, 2017, aluminum, 48 1/2 x 40 1/4 x 1 3/4".

Anita Leisz’s work by turns evokes a visual unity and highlights the nature of its construction from disparate elements. One piece, composed of two galvanized-iron cylinders (all works Untitled and 2017), is the only on view that clearly brings to mind a three-dimensional structure. The other six works are simultaneously paintings and sculptures. Hung from the walls, they possess a mutable-seeming depth that complicates their status as paintings, even though their presentation encourages categorization as such. One wood, gypsum, and fiberboard piece, for example, is five inches thick. Another ambiguity emerges from the nature of the abstraction to which the artist resorts. Her language refers to the realm of minimalism: essentialism, formal reduction, geometry. She uses materials such as gypsum fiberboard that overtly evoke construction, as well as iron, tin, and wax. The vertical line down the center of one piece is formed by rebar of sorts, grafted onto the fiberboard panel. With their industrial aesthetic, Leisz’s works can seem like building fragments that have lost their structural function, becoming pure abstract forms. Their cryptic ambivalence resides in an oscillation between stark abstraction and a suggestion of lived-in spaces. On close examination, it becomes clear that the surfaces have been marked and worked over, as if time has incised histories into them. The apparent coldness of Leisz’s work is a deception and an enigma.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Alessandra Pioselli

Alan Charlton

Noire Gallery
via Piossasco 29
October 18–February 5

Alan Charlton, 20 Vertical Parts, 1990/2017, 88 1/2 x 14 1/4" each.

This new, multifaceted exhibition of Alan Charlton’s work speaks to the continued vitality and richness of his production. In the late 1960s, the English artist was already pioneering a language of radical abstraction. Since that time, he has adopted gray as the distinctive and sole color in his practice––a color which embraces neutrality in opposition to representation and expression, but whose eminent urban overtones also explicitly connect his paintings to industrial culture.

The large curved wall at the gallery’s entrance offered an opportunity for the artist to stage a new installation of his monumental 1990 work, 20 vertical parts, originally conceived as a “corner painting.” Made up of twenty identical elements, the piece puts forth a dialectic of plurality and unity following a pared-down methodology: Every component has been meticulously painted to achieve the most uniform effect possible. Furthering Charlton’s rejection of gestural expressivity and subjectivity, both the dimensions of the works’ individual elements and their distance from one another are based—as is always the case in his pieces—on a 4.5-centimeter unit: the standard thickness of a stretcher frame in the United Kingdom. These same dimensions guide the other works on view, all created for the show. In the second room, the diptychs in “Light and Dark,” 2017, each have two elements of the same size, one light and one dark, seemingly contradicting and modulating serialism. The show’s final section features Isometric Triangle, 2017, paintings on unstretched canvas, hanging freely on the wall and deliberately arranged nonsequentially.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Francesca Pola

“Paranormal: Tony Oursler vs Gustavo Rol”

Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli
Via Nizza, 230/103
November 3–February 25

View of “Paranormal: Tony Oursler vs Gustavo Rol,” 2017.

Like the Pied Piper, Tony Oursler leads viewers through an exhibition composed not only of his sculptures and paintings, but also archival material dedicated to the paranormal from his over-15,000-item collection, as well as writings and paintings by artist and psychic Gustavo Rol. He gives form to his knowledge of paranormal worlds drawn both from his recent stay in Turin (a city full of esoterica and Rol’s home) and from his family history: Oursler’s grandfather, Charles Fulton Oursler, was close friends with both Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

In this exhibition, Rol is a key point in the face-off between white and black magic. A man who crossed paths with everyone from John F. Kennedy to Queen Elizabeth II, Rol was a clairvoyant and painter who imbued his works with what he called “arrivals from the sky.” Oursler stages new installations, inspired by ex-votos from Turin’s Sanctuary of the Consolata; the dialogue he establishes with Rol is marked by spontaneity and irony, walking the boundary between profound acceptance and detachment, between well-established research and hidden mechanics. What seem to be images of disquieting, small ghosts with lively eyes lurk amid photos of nineteenth-century ectoplasm and documentation of spiritualist séances and hypnotists’ sessions. Video-paintings depict figures who ascend discontinuous stairs or appear like visions in front of a church, and video footage of mouths spouting paranormal rants appear projected on sculpture. Meanwhile Rol’s paintings of bare trees, or roses, seem to await distant spirits. You don’t need to believe in the paranormal to let yourself become involved.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Michela Moro

“The Boat Is Leaking. The Captain Lied”

Fondazione Prada | Venice
Calle de Ca’ Corner, Santa Croce 2215
May 13, 2017–November 26, 2017

Thomas Demand, Klause II (Tavern II), 2006, C-print, 70 x 96". Installation view.

Spread across three floors of an eighteenth-century palazzo, this exhibition visualizes a broad question: What happens when falsehoods stand in for the truth? For this collaboration, curator Udo Kittelmann, artist Thomas Demand, set designer Anna Viebrock, and filmmaker Alexander Kluge look to the eternal worry over art’s duplicity. This time around, at issue are not the objects themselves as much as the walls that support them.

The design of the show is provocative, blurring distinctions between discrete works and a single massive installation piece. Viebrock’s stage sets from previous theatrical productions have been appropriated throughout, providing a physical frame of contingency for the other artists’ work. The ground floor offers a straightforward introduction to the artists and demonstrates how their practices address the deception of vision. First is Demand, whose video Ampel (Stoplight), 2016, features an animated replica of the titular device, nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. Nearby, Kluge’s film Die sanfte Schminke des Lichts (The Soft Makeup of Lighting), 2007, subjects actors to various lighting effects, revealing the trickery of high-definition cinema. Two doors designed by Viebrock flank the projection, one of which is an astonishingly realistic hotel lobby entryway. Seemingly accessible, both doors are locked.

The upper floors slip fully into fabrication, with Viebrock’s previously impenetrable sets now accessible as they fill entire rooms. A counterfeit cinema plays Kluge’s films; its exit leads to a courtroom where Demand’s photograph of a model of a building covered in ivy—Klause II (Tavern II), 2006—faces the stand. Wall texts are virtually absent throughout, except in one room: a facsimile museum gallery (Viebrock’s Exhibition Room, 2017) stocked with social realist paintings. Although the labels state that Angelo Morbelli painted the works in the 1880s, amid so much fraudulence they feel fake. In reality, he did paint them, but the resulting feelings of uncertainty are all too frightening in a sinking city.

Lucas Matheson


Palazzo Fortuny
Campo S. Beneto, 3780
May 13, 2017–November 26, 2017

Henri Michaux, untitled, 1961, India ink on paper, 29 1/2 x 41".

Immodesty has perhaps never appeared so putrefying as it does in 2017, year of the pretentiously sweeping curatorial gesture. Following a now near-universal trend, curators—more like mystical Band-Aid applicators—of this summer’s verifiably grotesque Grand Tour spectacles attempted to pass their sludgy discourse off as genuine, to a chorus of yawns comprising the more honest critical reactions. Thankfully, there were other, immersive pathways to wander on this season, the most important one being “Intuition,” organized by a team led by Axel Vervoordt and Daniela Ferretti. The very notion of this exhibition’s simple theme is largely being ruined, done away with, and murdered in the twenty-first century by any number of forces. But this sacred orgy, in which hundreds of works copulate gracefully with the Venetian Gothic exuberance of the Palazzo Fortuny’s fixtures, clashes with the straining for relevance and dehydrated conceptual checklists so prevalent today. The show allows the works to speak, nay, sing for themselves, rather than serving as a mere support for some cultural bureaucrat’s politically correct, career-boosting propositions. The inclusion of Joan Miró’s late curvilinear works, Park Seo-Bo and Dominique Stroobant’s respective Écriture incursions, Henri Michaux’s miserable miracles, Cy Twombly’s cursive splat, Yuichi Inoue’s calligraphic lashings, and Yuko Nasaka" nofollow="nofollow">Yuko Nasaka’s illustrations of infinity clearly demonstrate that the curators prefer the direct transmission of gestures. The sexiness of the mark lies in its anarchic proliferations of consequentiality.

These artists are united by an understanding that the savage duty of their vocation was/is to become an alien. And not just to the world, but to oneself; and through the work, to multiply one’s selves, constantly; a process of endless othering. Where intention is pure, it requires no explanation; it simply stabs you in the face. It was great to be assaulted in this manner, reminded that nothing else is needed but to have your vision and die. I’ll still be pondering “Intuition” the next time I am subjected to some jet-set windbag with a suitcase full of cash bemoaning the global migration crisis.

Travis Jeppesen