18 November 2017 - 30 January 2018
Exhibition catalogue curated and with text by Chiara Ianiselli
Galleria Mazzoli is pleased to present recent works by Ariel Cabrera Montejo (1982, Cuba), Hugo López Ayuso (1989, Spain), Rafael Megall (1983, Armenia), Maria Pääkkönen (1988, Finland), and Xue Ruozhe (1987, China).
The five artists, four of whom are exhibiting for the first time in Italy, present works that consider the dimensions of illusion and mimicry in painting and drawing of today. The works are structured within infinite narrative strategies, emphasizing, pictorially and conceptually, dimensions of unreality and mendacity, and of the possibility this offers from a perspective of survival. Mimicry, in fact, which can be considered as one, if not the major, reasonable evolutionary response to that which is defined as “reality”, represents the point of departure for contemplating the works that have been brought together for Seeing Whales. Different cultural stratifications have enabled the artists to create an aggregate of different perspectives, culminating in a kaleidoscope that confounds the origins of their vision, a relentless sequence of sources and of the pictorial methods themselves.
“What d'ye see?” cried Ahab, flattening his face to the sky.
“Nothing, nothing sir!”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter cxxxiii, The Chase, first day, 1851, London, Wordsworth Classic, 1993, p. 446.
The works of Hugo López Ayuso encapsulate a very complex narrative stratification that combine grotesque drama with a dreamlike, anti-realistic atmosphere to explore the visual and physical dimension of theater, combined with a repurposing of characters trapped in historical paintings. The hyperrealism of the animated cartoon lives in spaces without shadows, forcing the spectator to stare intensely at the works, as if they were icons. Ariel Cabrera Montejo b historical sources of the story of Cuba with a wholly joyous, theatrical, and scenic dimension, continuously alternating strata of painting with photographic frames. The works in the series “La Tregua Fecunda” display the sensuality of his watercolors in a much more intimate dimension, set in the dressing rooms, away from the spotlight that is otherwise present in his paintings. Maria Pääkkönen, on the other hand, operates within a sphere of drawing that is, in its pristine nature, almost “Arctic”, completely devoid of accessory elements: her drawings do not describe stories to the world, but remove. The works of Xue Ruozhe also confuse levels in a look-alike dream world that is absolutely silent: twins walk through the gallery, their gaze always turned away, also from each other. Rafael Megall, whose work is shown here following his participation at the 57th Venice Biennale in the Armenian Pavilion, describes figures that are methodically broken down and recomposed, inspired also by Persian epic poetry of thousands of years ago. The excess of decoration, the almost tapestry-like texture of the paintings recalls techniques of miniatures and goldsmiths, but with the colors and subjects of pop art.
It was not until 1975, long after we had viewed earth from space, when a whale was photographed for the first time underwater, in its habitat.