A new contemporary Art Museum
Opening 28 May 2005
Ahmad Alaa Eddin Siria Almalé & Bondía Spagna Felix Anaut Spagna Klitsa Antoniou Cipro Norbert Francis Attard Malta Llorenç Barber Spagna Renato Barisani Italia Fernando Barredo Spagna Marta Carolina Beckelman Gonzales Paraguay Franz Josef Berger Austria Sandra Bermudez Colombia Giona Bernardi Svizzera Monica Biancardi Italia Martina Braun Austria Luciano Campitelli Italia Iraida Cano Guatemala Odile Cariteau Francia Renate Christin Germania Rodolfo Llópiz Cisneros Cuba Pasquale Ciuccio Svizzera Melita Couta Cipro Cyop Italia
Charly d’Almeida Benin José D’Apice Brasile Caroline De Lannoy Belgio Federico Del Vecchio Italia Huxiang Dong Cina Zhang Donghong Cina Frederica Bastide Duarte Portogallo Metka Erzar Slovenia Bartolomé Ferrando Spagna Ana Ferreira Spagna Enzo Fiore Italia Pierre Gauthier-Dubédat Francia GGTarantola Italia Vladimir Gaśparić Croazia Ashish Ghosh India Fabio Giampietro Italia Klementina Golija Slovenia Dimitar Grozdanov Bulgaria Armin Guerino Austria Amela Hadžimejlić Bosnia e Erzegovina Eti Haik-Naor Israele Jacques Haramburu Francia Manabu Hasegawa Giappone Heiko Hofmann Germania Iabo Italia Nora Iniesta Argentina Gisella Jackle Germania Kaf Italia Kaory Kawakami Giappone Nader Khaleghpour Iran Ria Klop Olanda Boštjan Lapajne Slovenia Nuša Lapajne Slovenia Barbara La Ragione Italia Liz Magic Laser Stati Uniti Christian Leperino Italia Ma Lin Cina Joan Llacer Spagna Macro Italia Christoph Mancke Germania Mayerle Manfred Germania Antonio Manfredi Italia Jannis Markopoulos Grecia Nikolai Mašukov Russia Kečo Mensud Bosnia e Erzegovina Manolo Messía Spagna Penka Mincheva Bulgaria Helmut Morawets Austria Aghim Muka Albania Mihoko Nakahara Giappone Mira NarobeSlovenia Lindsey Nobel Stati Uniti Odelot group Spagna Bonnie Onderwaater Olanda Milena Ouzounova Bulgaria Bruno Paladin Croazia Michael Panayiotis Cipro Sibille Pasche Svizzera Gloria Pereda Spagna Massimo Pianese Italia Ivan Piano Italia Alberto Ponticelli Italia Robert Primig Austria Raffo Italia Robot Inc2501 Italia Marie-Françoise Rouy Francia Titti Sarpa Italia Ulf Saupe Germania Raquel Schwartz Bolivia Maria Grazia Serina Italia Natalie Silva Italia Kamen Simov Bulgaria Irmelin Slotfeldt Norvegia Ale Staffa Italia Kim Tae-Jun Corea Suo Tan Cina Tatiana Italia Li Tianyuan Cina Yoshie Tonegawa Giappone Cristina Treppo Italia Fillippos Tsitsopoulos Grecia Etko Tutta Slovenia Klavdij Tutta Slovenia Two four two Cipro Unz Italia Pim van Halem Olanda Willem van Hest Olanda Jiři Voves Repubblica Ceca Celia Washington Scozia Alan Waters Inghilterra Liu Wei Cina Wu Wenguang Cina Emma Wood Inghilterra Xu Xianglin Cina Zhou Xiaohu Cina Cang Xin Cina Toshiro Yamaguchi GiapponeKazuyo Yamamoto Giappone Huang Yan Cina Liu Yang Cina Jung Yeun Park Corea Ming Yi Chou Taiwan Zhou Yuechao Cina Xu Zhenglong Cina Lin Zijie Cina
It is not a coincidence that there are so many Oriental, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese artists invited to this exhibition, just as it not a coincidence that I am the one who is writing about these artists. When, in 2001, I met Antonio Manfredi, who was involved in the making of several monumental sculptures in China, we struck up a relationship at once that later led us to collaborate in various projects. Together we visited Beijing and dozens of studios of painters, sculptors, photographers and performers in every corner of its immense province, most of whom we then invited to this exhibition for the creation of the International Museum of Contemporary Art of Casoria of which Manfredi is the curator.
From the start Oriental art began by emphasizing its purely educational aspect, and has always stressed its intention through the development of values able to shape human relationships. In his works the Oriental painter ponders over history, his intention, his soul and his philosophical concept. The contemporary art scene at the beginning of the new millennium appears very complex. The artists involved come from such different backgrounds and education that any attempt to classify them into a single category that can apply for all its aspects is useless.
Chinese art in particular and Oriental art in general are becoming more westernised only in appearance, essentially maintaining their own character and cultural tradition. Even if they look with interest to the history of Western art, they transform its language into an original blend of Asian and Western, thus developing a totally original style and content.
Over the last ten years, the photographic medium and video were probably the means of expression most suitable for satisfying the creative needs of the new generation of Oriental artists and their performances. The message of the works exhibited in this exhibition in Casoria offers an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between different traditions and cultures.
Indeed, many artists presented a video or a photograph.
Huang Yan from China is known internationally as the tattooer of polychrome landscapes on bodies. Drawing from Body Art and the art of tattooing, he proposes traditional Chinese themes.In Casoria he presents a photograph of his performances where he paints symbols of Chinese artwork on bodies, such as mountains from antique Chinese paintings.
Liu Yang shows a small series of images of women, outstanding for the discretion and sensitivity – also in his use of colours – of his approach to women. Cang Xin’s self-portrait portraying himself at the centre of a bed of roses, set in a brightly coloured landscape, has an almost dream-like atmosphere. Zhou Yuechao presents two large-format photographs taken during a performance in the city of Chongqing entitled “Floating Installation-Teahouse”, where a group of 5 men chosen randomly and a woman are admirably used for a performance that is intended as a paradox of the modern conception of art and culture.
Li Tianyuan exhibits a photograph with a strongly evocative pale sky, due to the absence of any other iconic element, in a total field with minimal chromatic variations.
The Korean photographer Kim Tae-Jun is present with a large photograph more than four metres long, admirably taken in an old Korean restaurant.
With his video called “Utopian machine”, Zhou Xiaohu shows an interesting comparison between oriental and western culture with its miseries and tragedies using figures made of Plasticine.
The 56-min documentary film by Wu Wenguang entitled “Dance with farm workers” is particularly interesting. The artist uses workers from a textile plant to create a performance with a spectacular effect.
The stimulating video of the artist Liu Wei offers a political analysis of Chinese society, in which images from past and present including those of the events in Tienanmen Square follow each other in a kind of autobiographic dream.
There is another video called “Aliens”, but this one is by Manubu Hasegawa from Japan. The work, which took four years to make, presents a frenetic succession of thousands of drawings of aliens.
When China in particular and the Orient in general open up to the world in a paradoxical combination of tradition and new experiences, artists show a creative energy filled with imagination that always rests, however, on a consolidated cultural awareness with respect to their past and to the significant transformations of the present. We have an admirable example in several works that will be shown in Casoria, and that will become part of the museum’s permanent collection: First there are the Chinese painters Huxiang Dong, who presents us with a small oil painting with unusual light effects on the body of a woman covered with a transparent plastic dress; Zhang Donghong, who is also fascinated by the play of light, but in a very different pictorial context, where a tongue that blends into the blue background can just be seen; Ma Lin, with a painting that has a strong figurative energy, in which a spectacular symbolism triumphs; and finally, Xu Xianglin, with a soft pastel on vellum paper that depicts a scene with magic overtones against a transparent sky.
The work of the Taiwanese painter Ming Yi Chou is particularly significant for its comprehensive use of the distribution of space, in which he creates a composition with sixteen elements, significantly called “Felicitad”, which takes us into a forest of flowers.
Special mention should be made of the Japanese artists Mihoko Nakahara, who, in his study with a conceptual flavour, distributes small pebbles on the monochrome surface of his works that widen the perception of the surrounding space; Toshiro Yamaguchi, whose acrylic on canvas, entitled “Spring”, provides an example of a musical performance achieved through the rhythmic distribution of shapes on the painted surface; and Kazuyo Yamamoto, who, in his oil on canvas, has inserted an archipelago of rounded shapes on a green background.
Other types of works are those by the Japanese sculptress Yoshie Tonegawa, who carries out a study with refined matterism on basic geometric structures; by the Chinese sculptors, Xu Zhenglong, with a small resin sculpture called “Revival” that depicts a figure with an unusually marked characterisation, and Li Zijie, with a work in silver plastic portraying a sort of silver idol crowned with two hands joined in prayer, which – writes the author – are the symbol of God.
Beijing, April 2005
PLAN FOR A CITY MUSEUM
The belief that tourism is an important economic resource for the country has often led public administrators and citizens alike to have great confidence in all the initiatives that, in one way or another, should have the capability to promote it. There is hardly a public initiative nowadays in the field of contemporary art that is not planned in the perspective of so-called “cultural tourism”. An exhibition attracts interest when its function as an “attractor” is recognised; when, regardless of its cultural value, it is believed that it will help direct the flow of tourists towards the place that is hosting it. In reality, a series of conditions are necessary for art tourism to truly become an important factor of economic development. They go from an adequate policy for the protection and enhancement of the environment and its historical and natural patrimony to the efficiency of services and accommodation and to the ability to plan and coordinate. All these factors combined make an exhibition or a concert in the square something more than an isolated event or simply a “festive” moment in the fabric of a dull and squalid everyday existence. When these preconditions are lacking, the “grand event” – as any pretentious art show is pompously described nowadays – arouses no more than a modest interest in the local media and a marginal increase of approval: The aim of intercepting the flow of tourists remains beyond reach. As a matter of fact, it becomes an unattainable false promise for which all other goals are sacrificed, abandoning the development of a more courageous cultural policy capable of having a positive impact on public opinion and, I would even say, on the population’s civil conscience.
This brief introduction was necessary to attract attention to a fundamental aspect of the A City for Art plan, entrusted by the Municipality of Casoria to Antonio Manfredi and to the International Contemporary Art Centre. The plan has already produced some remarkable results, such as the International Symposium that took place last October and the creation of the Sculpture Park. A decisive moment of transition is now being faced with this exhibition that sees the participation of about one hundred artists from around the world and will lead to the creation of the Museum of Contemporary Art in the city of Casoria.
I have been following the generous efforts of Manfredi and his collaborators with admiration and great interest, but only from the outside, and so it is certainly not up to me to explain the plan’s contents and objectives. But I do think that it is right for someone who has been participating for many decades in events in the world of art in Naples and elsewhere, with the role at least of public witness, to point out the very infrequent event of a city administration that, in abandoning the usual initiatives in pursuit of the hope of some electoral advantage or increase in tourism, is instead committed to a long-term plan that is centred on objectives for the cultural and civil development of society. Those who have had the opportunity to follow the various phases of the International Symposium of Sculpture, which brought together the organisers of the exhibition, the artists and the people of Casoria with the active participation of a large number of students, know that our considerations refer not only to the motives that inspired the A City for Art plan, but also concern the actual operating plan that is already in place.
A characteristic feature of the plan is without a doubt the manner in which it tackled the objective of involving young people, by putting students directly in contact with the artists and their work. It is obvious that this proposal is based on the belief that artistic activity cannot be reduced to a naïve and pre-reflective need of expression. It contains a factor of critical awareness and this self-reflective dimension is closely connected to the concrete production of art work. In reality, self-reflection and a pragmatic opening to the world are polarities that make up artistic expression, and it is not by chance that they are present and explicitly made a subject of contemporary art, beginning with the historic avant-garde movements at the beginning of the 20th century. It should also be noted that the importance of the educational dimension is not simply a consequence of having identified in schools a suitable terrain for an initiative for the promotion and understanding of contemporary art. This dimension is already implicit in the open and constitutionally problematic nature of art and can be perceived in full when, by turning our attention to the procedures of artistic research, we understand the connection with every other moment of experience and the impact on the development and growth of the individual. It is not by chance that John Dewey was among the first to stress this imaginative passion that projects artistic research beyond sight of the existent and who saw in imagination “the essential tool of education”. The irreplaceable role of artistic imagination lies, on one hand, in its ability to adhere to the reality of experience, sounds, colours and to the sensitive qualities of the things of the world, and, on the other, in the need for totality that is expressed in it. Through art we sense that the objects that our intellect allows us to reach are fragments of that possible totality of experience that our imagination reveals to us. Since Kant, we know perfectly well that no particular cognitive content corresponds to the idea of the totality of the internal and external world and that, as a result, it cannot have the nature of effective knowledge. But this idea of totality, which can only aspire to be a regulative model, is reflected in the organic unity of the artistic experience, in the immanency of the whole in all its parts and of the end in the means that it appears capable of achieving, even in its limitedness. Fragments of personal stories, different linguistic styles and discordant expressive accents and cognitive traces “normally” destined to remain separate coexist in works of art. But their coexistence is not only a fact. It is the result of sharing a project that is recognisable as an organic element that spans and holds together the variety of differences. The aesthetical value is not a seal of totality impressed once and for good, but is rather an aspiration and the visible trace of a process that reaches the moment of its achievement and also of its renewal in the work. The awareness of this procedural strain is at the heart of the idea of a museum that is not only a place to conserve and exhibit works of art, but is also a venue for research and experimentation, a place to meet and for constructive dialogue or, as Manfredi rightly says, a “laboratory museum”.
The layout of the A City for Art plan, clearly indicated in the objectives that have already been achieved, allows us to table another consideration. The well-deserved attention towards the problems of organising cultural activity and the recognition of the importance of the activities carried out by private galleries in the distribution and sale of works of art does not justify the transformation of the market into protagonist of art history. The result is slight interest of the media and public institutions towards the specific problems of art education and production, towards study and research and art studios, schools, art academies and universities, i.e. towards the context of the conditions and factors – that cannot be reduced only to the market circuit – that contribute directly to the development of the world of art. A museum of contemporary art must relate to this situation and not only to the activities of private galleries. Of course, the market is a reality that conditions significantly, for better or worse; the development of artistic activity and a democratically elected administration cannot ignore it. However, the A City for Art plan provides the valuable indication that it is necessary to relate to this reality on the basis of an independent plan for cultural development, and that, by doing so, we can avoid giving publicity to those that fashion and the marketplace have already made successful.
And finally, mention should be made of the outspoken and constant reference to art as an instrument of solidarity among peoples by the curator of the plan and by the representatives of the institutions involved in it; to the necessity that the current hasty process of globalisation of the economy and communications be aimed not so much towards the elimination of diversity, but towards understanding, as a force in the creation of a world ethic founded on mankind’s common sense of belonging. The markedly international scope of the plan in all its stages and this exhibition, in particular, demonstrate that art can also assume this ethical commitment and make its contribution to reciprocal understanding among peoples and to a peaceful and constructive coexistence, in which different traditions are able to find an ethical and philosophical justification and can carry on in a fraternal atmosphere. The globalisation of trade, which accelerates economic competition and tends to impose the same standards, could also be fostered as a commitment for it to be transformed into opportunities to open up to others and to dialogue with all of mankind, so that also the field of art and creativity truly becomes the sphere of liberty and enhancement of diversity.
Naples, March 2005
A BROAD THINKING
The meaning and the value of the “museum project”, although under constant challenge, remain vital. For, the process in which the familiarization and interaction of the general public with art and art histories occurs, is always open to new propositions. The necessity to establish a museum culture has been effectively challenged and revalued. The Casoria International Contemporary Art Museum promotes a vigorous program, in an effort to compose a collection of art works by international contemporary artists. During the Triennial program, a collection of 300 artworks will be achieved, and these artworks will eventually constitute the Permanent Collection of the Museum. Governed by a broad, diverse thinking, the museum promotes an alternative to already established and familiar notions of art and art history. In the absence of an authoritative disposition, the Casoria International Contemporary Art Museum explores its new potentials, hoping to grow more and more active in the cultural life of the broader community. Interestingly, the museum invites and brings forth artists from various places, including those, which have been consistently overlooked by the leading tendencies of contemporary art. This particular intension allows for a multiplicity of new and alternative views to be voiced, alongside the more traditional or established artistic discourses.
In the current exhibition, “100 Artist for a Museum” which inaugurates the Triennial project of the museum, Cyprus participates with four works, contributed by Klitsa Antoniou, Melita Couta, Panayiotis Michael and the artist group Two four two. As art often becomes the means for connecting the personal and the social, the private and the political, illusion and reality, or even life and art practice, the four proposals by Cyprus are teamed together to explore a wide range of such issues arising in the context of contemporary culture. It is more accurate to say that, their coming together was materialized taking into account their differences in terms of art practice, subject matter and process. Expectantly, the works will offer a brief, yet a representative understanding of the current Cypriot art scene.
It is notable that, in Klitsa Antonious’ work (Regina, 2004), the central place is occupied by an interrelation of parallel, yet equally semantic, private and political understandings, aiming to tackle history, culture and privacy. In the current state of affairs where geographical, political and cultural borders are rather fluid or even dysfunctional, Antoniou tries to involve micro and macro politics regarding ones private and sociopolitical identity. While boundaries became flexible and cultural structures shifted their focus, there is an even stronger desire towards exploring one’s private context and the need of belonging, since finding one’s personal identity involves to a great extent his/her understanding of place-ness. As though abandoned in the mist of a working place, the work negates a highly staged exhibiting character. A photograph of a naked woman as seen from behind lies plainly on two wooden tripod legs, left for the speculating eyes of the viewer. Her hands are folded behind, in a shy gesture to hide her nakedness, emphasized by the harsh, natural light. What is rather difficult to notice is that under the table-like composition, a historical map of the Mediterranean is placed. Surprisingly, the island of Cyprus assumes the same position as the woman’s sexual organs. An often-reoccurring element in Antonious’ work is the inclusion of hidden information that needs to be discovered and functions as the punch-line to the seeming work. The two-dimensional depiction of the island is surrounded by the powerful presence of natural sea weed, a common natural element of the island’s sea coast, suggesting pubic hair shown from the lying figure. Constant political turmoil and often occupation by a series of foreign states has marked, even currently, the islands’ history and identity. Beside the search of the island’s belonging and position in geographical maps of Western origin, Antoniou juxtaposes the understanding of the female body -or better, her own body- as a cultural sign searching for its own parameters of sexuality and identity. The female body -her body- becomes the battleground of desire and rejection, in the same way as the island becomes the territory in which Cypriots are still struggling to comprehend and define their multiple roles and identities. More so in a time that geographically, politically and culturally the island belongs both to the West and the East.
Caught between abjection and beauty, Melita Coutas’ female bust, (Rose, 2004), evokes a spectrum of contrasting emotional states. Whereas the work is an apparent, sharply phrased thought arousing the nature of the female psyche and the politics that govern it, the bust also falls into an uneasy condition caused by material displacement and an eerie manipulation of the human body. The pose of the bust imitating that of a statue, with a purposely-cut limb, asserts that there is no effort to mimic life. Instead, the work calls for the prototypes of beauty set by the Greek-roman classical tradition. Beauty becomes a painful issue, as the bust is stripped off its skin, the surface upon which the qualities of physical beauty are inscribed. Ironically, under the absent skin lies the fiber of flesh, meticulously studied and interpreted; as each muscle is vividly exposed. Muscles and fibers of the flesh are made out of endless, long, female hair, sign of beauty and virility. Resistant to natural decay, even after death, hair in this work achieves an almost uncanny displacement. What is familiar, erotic and beloved, now becomes the means to portray the clinical reality of human anatomy when stripped off the skin. Attention to the ways in which a woman perceives her own body and sexuality is articulated in Couta’s work, as the figure becomes aware of her own image while she gazes gracefully her mirror reflection. This figure-bust is brutally exposed and aware of the viewers’ sight, provoking his/her pity and repulsion. Victimization and abuse that current culture and fashion have inflicted upon women are not only suggested but rather bluntly ‘carved’ onto the physicality of the body. As in Helen Chadwick’s twisted intestine together with a fine, blonde, plaid of hair, Couta, in her work, explores the relation of exterior and interior, vanity and decay, desire and pain. The work however also functions beyond this apparent embodiment of primarily ‘feminist issues’ as it also captures a sense of oniric imagery. This is achieved by the use of irrational displacement and the coexistence of contradictory conditions, while the work assumes a language of the past, a nightmarish overtone and an ambiguous sexuality.
While one can not deny the compelling need to communicate a thought, a moment, a landscape, it is quite debatable weather such a task may be achieved in its wholeness. The elusive nature of re-verbalizing or re-enacting an experience reinforces the realization of some untranslatable qualities. Likewise, the process towards an artwork undergoes a series of painstaking stages negotiating the inability of creating what really lies in the artists’ mind. Often, whatever it has been intended to be done eventually takes an inevitable course to meet an impulsive necessity: reaching the viewer. In that sense, the exhibited art work may never be considered as finished but rather, always, in the process of an on going, never ending evolution. What the viewer sees is merely a frozen moment, a snapshot in the passing of time. With an almost obsessive persistence, Panayiotis Michael composes methodologically an image of layered diagrams, plans, routes, mappings of spaces or situations, (To Approach You – Plan 2, 2002-2003). Resembling architectural cityscapes, webs, channeling detailed in a fascinating fashion, this bizarre map articulates impossible imaginary fields of perception. Struggling to make sense out of chaos, he constitutes his unrealized thoughts by graphically translating the minds’ minor failings, dead ends, obsessive repetitions and desirable details. In Italo Calvino’s novel “Invisible Cities” Marco Polo describes to Kublai Khan the cities he has visited. Khan listens to the young explorer in excitement and with suspicion concerning the truthfulness of his telling. Whichever the case, however, both Khan and the reader become swayed by the vivid and rich descriptions of cityscapes. There is a quality of euphoria and seduction in imagining what it is impossible to see or communicate in reality. Involved in an endless playful process, Michael ‘gives up’ on the actualization of his impossible artwork and results in graphically registering the desire, the planning and thinking of it. The mapping of a mindscape is frozen in time. It is translated in a static aesthetic result, which reflects the energy, the passion and torment during the moment of its creation.
The highly staged, the somehow sculptural photography shown by Two four two employs the image of themselves, as the sentimental evidence of their private cosmos, articulated in the public context. Pre-constructed identities dictated by fashion and marketing are constantly questioning one’s relationship with one’s own identity. My body no longer belongs to me and neither does its sexual behavior and identity. The use of the light box in 242’s work (Personal Grids, 2004), which at times makes references to advertising billboards found in bus stops, train stations or even shop decorations, is a reoccurring element. Masked under the use of portrait photography, the work investigates the realization of one’s private identity as a vehicle of emotional discourse entering the public domain. A domain which is not only aesthetically demanding, but also seeks for acceptable social behaviors. Whereas the light boxes appear ordinary and straightforward, a grid of aluminum bars, part of industrial light fixings, is applied on top of them causing an endless mirror effect. Fragments of the images are perpetually reflected enriching the visual depth and forming a firm grid, keeping the viewer in and out of the image and verifying the hesitation and need of the private becoming public. The imagery involved in the work carries a quality of affect provoked by both their honesty and suggestive alterations, their antique-like black and whiteness, as well as by their reference to familiar, pre-constructed public identities. There is a subtle ambiguity whether the faces portrayed are beautified or x-rayed medically, under the fluorescent lights. Are these harsh, clinical light boxes or luxurious advertising displays? 242 employ highly industrial materials disengaged from the process of making. Because of this, most of the work appears almost found, as a design element that interacts with the architectural vocabulary of the space. Further, the work provokes the viewer ‘to read on the surface’, in the same way that contemporary advertising portrays the body. It is rather peculiar, and perhaps the strongest element of 242’s work, that while they use industrial materials, highly perfected finishes and there is a clear absence of hand treatment, the work becomes rather introspective, as well as intensely expressive, arousing emotional tension.
Nicosia, April 2005
THE GLOBAL NETWORK OF ARTISTS
The town of Casoria and the “International Contemporary Art Centre Association” have embarked on an ambitious project. They are planning to develop a museum of contemporary art a few kilometres from Naples. This alone is not astounding, as it has been recognised in the last twenty years that it is important to create institutional places that are responsible for preserving contemporary art and making it accessible for a large public. What is unusual about this concept, is that the artistic manager Antonio Manfredi is not a theorist himself, but a visual artist who has been working in this region for about twenty years. This makes the project unique in its setting. An artist can never have and would never want to have the same perspective as an art historian or art critic, as he knows the artistic issues and problems not only from the outside, but from the inside as well. He cannot only imagine, he knows precisely what it means to start a new work of art, to stand in front of an empty canvas or to realise a new artistic concept, he is confronted with it daily.
The Casoria International Contemporary Art Museum, which is in construction now, is expected to open to the public in 2007/2008. It is known that a collection is an essential part of a museum that can be viewed besides the changing exhibition. How does such a collection come into being? Here too, the future museum goes its own way. The concept is simple, but none the less innovative and meaningful. So as not to have to fall back on an already existing collection, artists from all over the world have been asked to participate in the exhibition “100 Artists for a Museum”. After the exhibition the displayed works of art will form part of the collection of the future museum. The project will span the next three years. Thus the museum will already have a collection of around 300 works of art of internationally esteemed artists when it opens. These temporary exhibitions give the public a taste of what there will be to see in the new museum. In other ways the art centre is already active as well – it is planning to and has already begun to organise symposiums and other activities. The aim of these events is to bring this new “sight of art” to life and to give the public a chance to confront itself again and again with issues and questions of contemporary art and to let them get to learn more about it.
In the exhibition “100 Artists for a museum” artists from 40 countries will be represented. Just from looking at the large number of participating nations one can imagine that the aim isn’t simply to find a common denominator or common trends within contemporary art. The global network of artists will focus primarily on what they have in mutualities and differences in issues and materials. This might possibly lead to a lively discussion and positive argumentation.
The range of artists in the museum’s close surroundings is wide. Renato Barisani from Naples (born in 1918), has been an important influence on the art of that region in the last century and is represented along with a number of younger Neapolitans. Christian Leperino (born in 1979) works with video, photography and performances and shows us here with his exciting drawn that painting is as up to date as ever. Monica Biancardi is another example of someone who knows how to touch the human soul with her sensitive photographs. She achieves this by pointing out issues of human existence that are timeless.
The two artists from Switzerland Sybille Pasche and Pasquale Ciuccio represent two different positions of contemporary sculpturing. Whereas Sybille Pasche puts the emphasis on certain stones and on studying these stones in detail, Pasquale Ciuccio’s groundinstallation in which he uses an ultramarine layer of paint requires more than a glance to understand that here too stones form the basis. The sculpture appears to be so light that it almost seems to float on thin air and lift off the ground.
Besides a number of European artists, many artists from other continents are represented, for example Iriada Cano from Guatemala and Raquel Schwartz from Bolivia, who impress with their installations. Li Tianyan from China fascinates the spectator with his complex photograph and he testifies what the public has known since the penultimate Biennale in Venice – that China, as art from other non European countries as well, has a lively and attractive art scene and that our view has to be global so as not to miss any of its up-to-dateness or beauty.
Looking at the works of art of these 100 artists, one can definitely say that with the heterogeneity and wide range of contemporary art the collection in Casoria will give us the possibility again and again to touch new issues in the discussion of contemporary art.
Baden Baden, April 2005
CASORIA INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM
Anamarija Stibilj Šajn
History is being created at this very moment. The works of art which will outlive the constraints of time are to become part of it. Therefore it is very important to gain an insight into what is currently happening in art. However, in the Slovenia of the nineties of the previous century official institutions dealing with education, museums and publishing found themselves faced with numerous dilemmas: How to deal with new art practices, how to understand and present them, what stand to take on their issue. Therefore the idea to create a museum of contemporary art production is a truly commendable and brave project. It is Antonio Manfredi, a tireless artist himself, who came up with the idea, which soon took hold among his colleagues all over the world. The museum, which is currently being established, will thus open up a view of various researches and attempts in the field of contemporary art, as well as connect all kinds of artistic expressions, which are not few. They exist in much greater numbers than there are languages, as each author creates with his own artistic vocabulary. New, unconventional means of artistic expression are continuously added to the traditional ones, thus transforming art, which is gradually acquiring a multimedial character
Art has always reflected the time in which it is created. It cannot be incubated, nor can it be created in isolation. Artists are actually very sensitive people, open not only to their personal innermost world, but also to the outside.
Although we are living in a time of the information highway, which provides limitless opportunities for global dialogues, artists remain independent individuals, generating countless ideas and letting their imagination take wing. Ideas swarm in their vast world of reflections, waiting to be elaborated into careful plans. In the time when we are bombarded with so much information and trapped within the virtual, artists open up their intimate selves, the world of their personal experiences, fantasies and dreams, transforming them into a new visual presentation.
When amidst a huge number of exhibits displayed we are faced with the creativity of Slovene artists, we cannot help but wonder whether there are any criteria which join or divide their work and whether a phenomenon like “genius loci” applies in their case. Does a local parameter define a specific artist to a noticeable extent? Without doubt an author originates from it directly or indirectly. However, within this space an author still remains an individual, preserving his originality, which makes him distinct from others.
Although Slovenia is a small country, it does not have a unified geographical profile. It could be easily called a land of many faces. Its population, although small in number, still differs in many ways and speaks numerous accents. Artists are no exception, and the group of artists selected for the occasion reflects this state of affairs. Each one of them has developed a very different artistic expression. On the one hand there are artists who still use traditional means of expression and speak about the contents we all know and recognise. On the other hand there are artists who have extended these areas to experiment in the world of media.
The painter Klavdij Tutta is a prolific artist and an active organiser of international art events. The Mediterranean world represents a firm stimulus for his motifs, and is indirectly reflected also in his colour range, which expresses intensity, warmth, variety, and power. Energy accents may even seem more distinct than usual, as the painter uses bright vermilion reds. In figural compositions the painter elaborates an animal figure, which is in many of his latest variants restricted to a mere image of an eye, as the author tends to opt for a narrative reduction more and more frequently. Artistic settings are getting more and more airy, purified, and convey a more distinct and pure choice of artistic expressions. However, these are getting deeper, more significant, enriched with intimate reflections and accentuated with current contents. The painter’s playful, dynamic compositions consist of several integral parts, joined by a rhythmically balanced system of points, which reflects the painter’s response to ecranisation, reproduction, and consumerism.
The artistic world of the painter Klementina Golija, who studied at the Accademia di Brera in Milan, is concealed behind the veil of a layered artistic setting, enriched with collage elements and multiple colour layers, through which the collage trickles onto a two-dimensional screen, revealing itself as an internalised image. As the painting surface is actually a substance, so is a fragment of the painter’s thought materialised in a way. It enters this setting in the form of a playfully articulate drawing construct, marking the imaginary artistic space with its distinctive character, defining the creative thought and directing it towards the thematically realistic starting point. In the process of creation forms are brought to life by a perfectly sublime luminescence, which appears openly in some places.
The painter Nuša Lapajne has participated in several national and international exhibitions. She is renown for her numerous projects in the form of ambiental displays. Doing this she tends to create an interesting dialogue between her own creativity on the one hand, which involves also creating by means of new media, and ready-made objects or “les objets trouvés” on the other hand. This time she reveals the intimate space of an individual in rapture against prints of extreme dimensions in the background. France Bernik said: “Art is a matter of each individual, but it is intended for all the people”. In the case of Nuša Lapajne it is “a table” that becomes the unveiled fraction of her work rapture.
Metka Erzar’s artistic expression consists of varied surfaces and painting sections with original structures and interesting textures. The formal base consisting of multiple layers, primed with impastos and enriched with collage fragments, gives the effect of something realistic and represents the outside world. With a minimalistic artistic intervention in the form of symbolic signs and lined traces the painter approaches the sphere of a pure spiritual thought. In her painting there is a lot of (in)directly recognised symbolism which explains the painter’s deep reflections. Although the painter is focused on the world of non-material values, she does not forget the rules of art, among which is the composition principle of the golden cut. Her work gives the impression of a map which directs us towards a more important internal ambient.
Boštjan Lapajne, who belongs to the younger generation of Slovenian painters, deals with traditional easel painting, but also with video. Very often he creates interesting dialogues between the two media. This time he presents the video Coexistence. In his video production Boštjan Lapajne manages to join contrasts, uniting two apparently opposite poles into a new meaningful whole. “Live images” of animals are trapped in a moment, while animal paths and human paths – those of the author – are drawn in a space. There is a point in time where the paths are crossed and finally joined. Boštjan Lapajne’s creativity is distinctively expressive regardless of the medium used.
Within the figural guidelines of Mira Nagode’s art the most important role of form and content is given to human figure. Her Flower Vendor is brought to the painting by gradual lightening of the dark background. Part of the background takes on the role of a contour, which is a drawing element. The setting vibrates with the communication between impastos, representing solid substance, and large but absolutely gentle colour glazes. The image oscillates between realistic recognition, and expressiveness which at times already touches the abstract. Thoughts, feelings, meaning and the atmosphere in general are guided by the colours, which communicate in the range of warm-cold and convey the painter’s desire of the search of light.
Etko Tutta chooses a sphere of human life to speak about in his personal language of signs and symbols. This time his record is even more direct. It seems that a precisely elaborated face of a man, ennobled by an expressive accent, becomes the central figure of the event. It is personified by a group of stylised flock of birds, which are also generally an indispensable part of the painter’s language. Thus, the painting shows a contradiction between an original, but still traditional image of a man on the one hand, and a crowd of stylised elements and signs, displayed in a playfully decorative manner on the other hand. The contrasts are offered to the viewer not only as a visual, but also as a reflective stimulus.
In the time when (almost) anything is allowed in art, Nikolaj Mašukov’s creativity really holds a special place. The author comes from Krasnojarsk in Siberia, where he completed an art school, graduating later from the Sculpture Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Moscow. In his art we can yet and again admire his movements between the past and the present, between the academic and the personal, between historical themes and the moments when he is absorbed in his intimate, even philosophical, reflections. He is a master of drawing. Line is a masterly trace, constructing and elaborating the central theme in detail. However, it is with colour and its luminous accents that the author opens up outwards and, most of all, to himself and to the search of symbolic moments. With colour he creates the space and conjures the atmosphere. With the painting Four Shadows of a Ship he expresses his ironic view of the world.
The project “Casoria International Contemporary Art Museum” is a perfect venue for outstanding creative personalities with original creative potentials to meet and lead interesting professional discussions. An exhibition is being created with an outstanding crescendo, raising awareness of how varied contemporary art is. It is even unusual at times, but most of all so different from the art we have been meeting throughout history. It is different, because different people create it in a different time. Namely, art is an expression of the deepest feelings, of the most intimate experiences. It is the world of ideas brought to reality, ideas which are generated by each person individually. Therefore these ideas belong to them.
This project leads us to become aware of the possibilities of new forms and expressions. Seeing its impact, I cannot but remember the old Latin saying: Vivat, crescat, floreat! May “Casoria International Contemporary Art Museum live, grow and flourish! May it continue to open up its door to Slovenian artists as well. Although they do represent but a fraction on the art world map, they still unveil yet another view of art: unique and different from the rest of the world.
Lubjiana, March 2005
I met Antonio Manfredi on the occasion of his one-man show at the Ethnographic Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg in the winter of 1995. I had already realised at the time, during our endless and sometimes heated discussions about the significance of art while we walked in the Nieschi, that his vision of art was global. So I was not at all surprised when I found out about his plan to set up a Museum of Contemporary Art. It is truly an arduous task to give an exhaustive overview of all the works present in this exhibition entitled 100 Artists for a Museum. We are confronted with artists of different ages and backgrounds having different styles and techniques. Yet, it is obvious even after an overall view, how the show clearly reveals the principal characteristic of artistic research in recent years: an open environment, where the response to the absence of clearly dominant trends and the rigid division into sectors is the complex and indefinable phenomenon of widespread pluralism, in which the leading roles of various artists trace highly mobile itineraries that are similar, meet and diverge to create a network of identities and diversities that go beyond geopolitical boundaries and assume planetary dimensions.
From photography to painting and sculpture and from videos to installations, we become aware that new means of expression are being added to the traditional languages and techniques of the visual arts, such as those made possible by new communications technologies. This relationship is not only one of coexisting while remaining distinct, but also one of osmosis, hybridisation and reciprocal contamination. This process is also documented by the photographic work of the young Italian artists, Barbara La Ragione, who alludes to a doleful analysis of the human condition through the hideous deformations of her “portraits”, and Monica Biancardi, who is able to capture moments of suffering and tender sensuality in the stream of everyday existence and deliver them graphically in her photograms; of the American artist Liz Magic Laser, with her female figures traversed by a fluid and mysterious energy; and by Penka Mincheva from Bulgaria whose diptych “…it sometimes hurts…” plays effectively on the contrast between the extreme sharpness of the iconic rendering and the ambiguity of the semantic similarities.
But photography is used in a different way by the young German photographer, Ulf Saupe, who transforms his human figures into metamorphic vestiges dynamically crossing indefinite visual fields, and by the American, Lindsey Nobel, who turns photographic data into threadlike nuclei of a disturbing living matter. The Rorschach-type images of the Columbian, Sandra Bermudez, with their flowery symmetries, explore the world of female sensuality in a study that succeeds in balancing formal precision with the unpredictability of fate.
The installation of the Argentinean, Nora Iniesta, uses the enlargement of an old family snapshot to take us into a dimension at midpoint between the accuracy of the documentary evidence and the seduction of a recollection stretched over time. We are led again to the flowing of the temporal dimension by the installation of the Bolivian, Raquel Schwartz, who presents a mantle made with tapes taken from old radio/cassette players, and the one by Ashish Ghosh from India, made with twenty-one transparent plastic tee-shirts screen printed with motifs deriving from Indian history and culture.
In the line of social commitment we have the interactive sculpture called “Swing II” by the Maltese artist, Robert Francis Attard, who presents a series of five swings made with guns. A strong emotional impact is provided by the works of the Italian painters, Fabio Gianpietro, with his mamma/zebra, filled with piety containing notes of Mexican murales in its avowed tendency towards monumentality, and Christian Leperino, with the lacerating and tragic expressionism of his screaming baby, called “Bes/an”; of the Bulgarian, Dimitar Grozdanov, with the sombre rhythm of his plastic and dramatic sequence of steps; of the German, Heiko Hoffman, with a series of four paintings of female figures in which the gestual-expressionist background dissolves into pleasant, soft colours: of the Austrian, Robert Primig, who etches figural fragments of forms into the dazzling light of the background; and of the Bosnian, Kečo Mensud, with his “Grytan silente”, drawn with an intense energy.
José D’Apice from Brazil presents, with “Immagine e somiglianza”, a work that reveals an admirable formal construction in the softness of its suffused luminosity. No less sophisticated in the softened prevalence of greys is the work of Emma Wood from England, who exhibits a large collage made with a mixture of medias and ink drawings on paper.
A personal elaboration of the informal abstract experience gives rise to the airy spatiality of the Austrian, Armin Guerino; to the luminous and warm emphasis on colour of his compatriot, Helmut Morawets; to the mobile set-ups of transparent structures of the Iranian, Nader Khaleghpour; to the paused dance of shapes against a background animated with pale blue shadows by Alan Waters from England; to the orderly composition of patches and spots in a bright red tone by the German, Renate Christin; and to the subtle and mysterious colour variations in multiple horizons by the Czech, Jiri Voves.
Pictorial research takes different routes in the work of the Cuban, Rodolfo Llopiz Cisneros, with his exhilarating montage of familiar icons and signs; of the Italian-American Natalie Silva, who renders images explicit in shapes with a more forceful and flowing immediacy; of the Austrian, Franz Josef Berger, who constructs an original image of Naples by juxtaposing fragments in “Per-che”; of the Israeli, Eti Haik Naor, who used salt as a medium in his work with a powerful and elaborate materiality.
The art of painting of Ahmad Alaa Eddin, from Syria, comes from a different cultural background. He starts with written characters that lead to results of a tender lyricism, in which the soft score of the patterns is combined with a stress on tonality of astonishing luminosity. There are the evocative works of Aghim Muka, whose “Puzzle” assembles icons that are traces of emotions and thoughts on a sort of memory board; of the artist from Benin, Charly d’Almeida, who transforms the surface of the painting into a screen of luminescent apparitions; of the Norwegian, Irmelin Slotefeldt, with a painting in which the landscape opens out into an aerial remoteness; of the Italian Maria Grazia Serina, with her men/insects drawn with very fine entomological detail.
The work of the young Italian artist, Federico Del Vecchio, is post-ecological. The clear, linear style of his icons blends technological mastery with nature, producing an effect that works its way into our perception of realty and alters it. The small but no less effective painting of Celia Washington, from Scotland, is enigmatic. An airplane/bird strikes a half-animal, half-human figure and reminds us of the events of 9/11.
The field of research between sculpture and installations includes the subtle minimalism of the crystal-glass sculpture by Frederica Bastide Duarte from Portugal; the iron-work of the German,Christoph Manke, who lets the grid of a topological outline appear in its compact materiality; and those of the very young Italian artists, Titti Sarpa, with the sculpture Sitting doll that underlines with affectionate discretion the oxymoron of a lucid melancholy, and Cristina Treppo, with the flowing airiness of her cascade of rose flowers.
There is a distinctive rhythmic value in the seven abstract paintings entitled “L’immage di Napoli” by the Austrian, Martina Braun, with their marked horizontal length, and in the four by the German, Mayerle Manfred. The bright painting of the Belgian painter Caroline De Lannoy is fascinating for its calibrated balance between structural rigour and perceptive intensity. The triptych by the Croatian artist Bruno Paladin, who made a vibrant composition criss-crossed with hints of shadows, is especially interesting.
Close attention should also be given to the works of the Italian comic-strip artists, Alberto Ponticelli, with a “painting” that has a diffused and nervous linearity, and Ale Staffa, with an amusingly ironic large strip; and of the Swiss, Giona Bernardi, who paints a sort of social reportage using a personal language with a very realistic style.
And finally, the video-photographic installation of Antonio Manfredi, who, in “Red vision”, sets up a network of silent cross-references between the images of the diptych close to contradictions and iconic analogies. Manfredi’s work brings video artists into the section, which is very important for the number and the quality of the works. It includes the Italians Massimo Pianese and Ivan Piano with their videos entitled “The bedroom” and “Red Rain”, the Bosnian Alema Hadžimejlić, with his night and day cycle entitled “Krug”; and the Greeks Fillippos Tsitsopoulos and Yannis Markopoulos respectively with their works entitled “A drop of dust again” and “Liquid and melted two”.
I would like to make a few comments about the monumental sculptures made in 2004 on the occasion of the 1° Casoria International Sculpture Symposium that made up the first group of sculptures in the city’s Sculpture Park. “Curve nello spazio” by the eclectic Neapolitan artist, Renato Barisani, is a splendid trace of light, a shiny sword, an abstract form in concrete space. “Rogo di luce” by the Spaniard, Fernando Barredo, is a shining totem dedicated to “Crapula”, the god that fights those without gender: a screaming mask, a condemnation of the ideological lies in the history of mankind. “Presente/futuro” by the Neapolitan sculptor, Luciano Campitelli, is a voyage in the pure form of matter through the rereading of the Futurist experience of our century. “The shadow of the ring” of the Slovenian artist Metka Erzar, the ring’s shadow; a sort of meridian, a sign, a natural clock. An introspective study of the interaction between space and light in search of the earth’s energy points. “The animals” by the Italian, Enzo Fiore, is an anthropological study of the essentiality of matter that becomes a living form. “Plavi obljic icretama” by the Croatian, Vladimir Gaśparić, is an iron and marble arrow pointing to the sky, the study of space and matter! The stone that irradiates its energy into space. “Domani”, is a huge basalt stone from Vesuvius by the German sculptress, Gisella Jackle, a dark and mysterious polished rock. A research into the essence of matter. A lava rock ready to expel its energy. “Rinascita”, the iron sculpture of Kaori Kawakami from Japan, symbolising the rebirth of matter, a seed ready to begin its life cycle. The intriguing installation of Antonio Manfredi entitled “Non è spiderman! ovvero prigioniero della stupidità”, a conceptual work about the significance of being a human of which the author himself writes: “Like in a nightmare! Prisoner of human stupidity, remain suspended between reality and fantasy, between past and future, between the sky and the earth”. “Fly to sky”, the massive iron and wood sculpture by the Bulgarian, Kamen Simov, an insect that arises from the depths of the earth ready to soar into the sky. “West and cast to combine” by the Chinese sculptor Suo Tan, a false archaeological find, a memorial stone crowned with flowers. An extraordinary vision of the Orient through the tattooing of matter. And finally what perhaps symbolises in it the entire plan of the city of Casoria: The Cog, the large sculpture that all the artists present at the Casoria International Sculpture Symposium decided to make using an imposing dented wheel for blast furnaces belonging to industrial archaeology that undoubtedly marks the birth of a new era for the city of Casoria.
Saint Petersburg, April 2005
CASORIA CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM
In a place whose name suggests the splendours of the Earth and the greatness of the Human Being, a new museum devoted to international contemporary art will rise thanks to the determination and the diligence of Casoria authorities and Naples International Contemporary Art Centre.
Artists and art lovers from France are pleased to welcome this start and wish it the best.
As if it was coming out of Charles Baudelaire, André Malraux or Elie Faure’s dreams, this Museum aims, in its heterogeneity, to be the reflect of the Art of our time throughout the world, in order to point out its universal, timeless and metaphysical essence. So, the vast and complete structure is made for knowledge, reflection and contemplation, divided in different activity’s sectors: a gallery presenting the continuous collection, another gallery for temporary exhibitions, a park with monumental sculptures, a lecture and projection room, a pedagogical laboratory, a multimedia area, a bookshop, studios and apartments for artists.
This “Ideal Museum”, looking so perfect that it seems difficult to figure it, will open its doors in 2008 to an eclectic, initiated or novice public, always sensitive and open-minded, eager for emotions and fine forms (plastic beauty). No doubt it will be attracted by all the plastic trends of our time: lyric or analytical abstractions; abstract or realistic expressionisms; dreamlike, pop, hyper realistic, surrealist or committed figurations; primitive art and more. It will also present all the materials used by the artists like painting, sculpture, photo, video, set up. Finally, it will enjoy researching cultural typologies, implicit, obvious or non-existent ones, to vary from case to case. And then discovering, through the forty nations represented, the common character of the thought and feelings of the being, beyond the frontiers of rationalism.
Following the example of its neighbours – antic, medieval or baroque cities like Pompeii, Herculaneum, Capri or Caserta -, the town of Casoria, bordering on Naples, goes on the march of civilisation with the beginning of a new chapter: the twenty-first century.
We would like here to congratulate Antonio Manfredi, Giosuè De Rosa, Giulio Russo, Pino Esposito and all the instigators of one of the most beautiful plan of our time. And we thank them for having invited France to take part in this great adventure.
Jacques Haramburu After having completed his studies (training) at the School of Decorative Arts, Fine Arts of Paris and Decorative Arts of Aubusson, Haramburu explores expressive forms. He uses different materials like painting, ceramic and tapestry. With a dynamic gestured , doing dripping, he tears and treats roughly the surfaces. The emphasis is on the quality and the quantity of the material. He likes to cover the whole surface with an homogeneous coat. But sometimes, he prefers to divide the surface into two parts, creating an opposition between a calm atmosphere on one side and a battlefield on the other side. In that way, remembering automatic writing, he can rightly express mankind’s emotions, sensations and feelings.
After a stay in la Casa de Velázquez in Madrid, the artist decides (chooses) not to use colours anymore. By only using forms and black and white, he creates a restrained and mystical anguish, sometimes with soft and dragging plastic harmony, and a light touch, sometimes with violent and morbid forms, and paint’s impasto or spatters. Because of his references to physical and mental suffering and to the imminence of death, his work can be compared to the Spanish expressionism – especially Saura, Millares, Tàpies or Feito – more than to American productions.
The untitled two part work he exhibits in Casoria rightly expresses a plaintive serenity, calming and frightening at the same time, moving and fascinating like the allegro mezza voce of a concerto.
Odile Cariteau Deeply marked by one of the most primary and picturesque country of Africa where she spent her childhood and teenage years, Odile Cariteau is first interested by the various definitions of universal symbols, especially through oriental religions and philosophies. From those researches, at first sight scientific, she finds a purely spiritual progress she can naturally apply to her creation’s work. Then, the study of the Torah’s ancient Hebraic characters, based on the “anagogie” of the square, and later of the Tchan, Taï-Chi-Chuan and Chi Gong’s calligraphy, more free and complex at the same time, seems to be a way to penetrate the mystery of our Genesis and of the World’s understanding. This study influences too her plastic aspirations and her work’s compositions.
Mainly using the canvas as material, but also stone, brick, tile and ceramic, especially the raku, the artist lets spatters and informal blobs – often black and grey – run on the surface, so that their structure reminds us the elements of nature – the sky, the wind, the stars – and as well the reflections of the man in perpetual search of wisdom.
Following the example of Zao-Wou-Ki, Gao Xingjian or, near to us, Turner and Mathieu, Cariteau says something to us with an “ardent tact”, because on this side of linear, dreamlike and even expressionist dynamism, the oriental succulence of a perfect mastery of the artist’s brushwork is essential.
Marie-Françoise Rouy Having very early developed a true love of (a true passion for) plastic arts, music, literature and languages, Marie-Françoise Rouy’s personality is characterized by an authentic and enriching eclecticism which gives her works not only a necessary metaphysic profoundness but also a basically rigorous aesthetic, in her march towards the avant-garde.
That’s how Pi for example – ancestral Chinese symbols of the sky – is first in her imaginary and then realized in concrete, a material not very used in plastic creation but still able to generate numerous forms and textures. Those circles, so allegories of the divine, but also others geometrical figures, more or less classic and expressing the spiritual, have two sides. One is plane and refined, in which the artist introduces various pigments, gold leaf oriental calligraphies and a deliberate alternation of polished and bright surfaces and then rough and mat ones. The other is unpolished and uneven, reduced to a primary condition in order to give free rein to things’ duality: on the one hand, the elementary genesis; on the other hand, the progress toward the perfection.
In the work of Marie-Françoise Rouy, all the philosophies seem to fit together in an harmonious and pertinent syncretism. In the same way, her expressionist manner, either lyrical or material-related, fits the extreme-oriental plastic and creates that way an exhaustive as well as an original art.
Pierre Gauthier-Dubédat After having completed brilliant studies at the National Art School in Paris, and then learned copperplate engraving in Johnny Friedlaender’s studio, Pierre Gauthier-Dubédat went in for creating in a spiritual as well as an aesthetic manner. Following the example of Socrate in search of Beauty, he knows that harmony alone leads to the absolute. Child of the twentieth century, this artist dominates the incessant metamorphosis of the avant-garde so much so that its richness and complexity feed him and drive him to create an unique language, at the same time pioneer and completely rooted in his generation, penetrating in this way the protean universality and timelessness of the History of Art.
His first works, violent and dark (or gloomy), lead the spectator, in spite of himself, to a universe reminding Goya, where simple conversations, bucolic walks or lovers’ meetings become unusual circular choreographies, carrying away the entire scene in a more or less accentuated rotation.
As the years go by, the characters fade, then completely disappear, leaving the space and the action to the Nature, sometimes hostile and frightening, sometimes kind and welcoming. This nature is dreamt or directly inspired by the travels the artist made throughout the world. Therefore, it penetrates our perception and rebuild our universe. So, actors and aesthetes at the same time, we pass through the numerous doors, propylaea, arches, narrow passages between two cliffs or in the middle of a thick wood, which predominate in his compositions. We are inevitably attracted by this “other side”, full of hope and emotional wonders, reminding Dante’s paradise. And then we contemplate the world, perched on plateaus opened on the infinite and the moods of the sky.
Basically lyric, the painting of Pierre Gauthier-Dubédat wants to express as rightly as possible the feelings and the reflections of the man in his search of truth through the constant and unlimited discovery of the elements surrounding him. And then, his painting enriches, with its undeniable quality, the Parisian tendency the artist has many things in common with, besides Vieira Da Silva, Soulages, Atlan, De Staël.
Paris, March 2005