curated by GIGIOTTO DEL VECCHIO
An artist’s creative process is always tempered by his life, experiences, vision, awareness, which can be used in diverse ways. They may consist of veiled allusions, remain present throughout the atmosphere of the works, or exist within citations or decisive reworkings. Each of these modes of reference assimilates the possibility of a simultaneous realisation when viewing the work, a form of visual pun dependent on the reference which is inevitably involved.
In the case of “Ref.” – an abbreviated form of “reference”– the artists see their work as strongly characterised by references, intended as a homage or a direct confrontation with their source of inspiration, real and personal myths with whom they struggle or converse. All the exhibited artists make use of direct references, albeit in diverse medium and with different ideas. All except one, Jonas Mekas. His work is a case apart, which returns to its point of origin: he not only makes references, but is himself a reference point.
Nader Ahriman is a painter of philosophy and of journeys within the metaphysical traditions of form and thought. Jonathan Monk portrays his love for the protagonists and experiences of conceptual art through his revision of ideas, moments and fundamental gestures directly cited from Alighiero Boetti, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Sol LeWitt. In his series of photographs “Arthur Rimbaud in NY”, David Wojnarowicz imagines going on a journey with Rimbaud to various deserted, peripheral places, where the great French poet never actually went but are in keeping with his aesthetics. Wearing Rimbaud’s mask, Wojnarowicz metaphorically introduces him to these places.
Josephyne Pryde parodies the work of Christopher Williams; but while the American artist, through his precise photography, celebrates “the nobility of the object” and its history and design, such as the Leika camera or Olivetti’s famous typewriter the “Valentina”, Pryde follows the same aesthetic procedure to celebrate the “non-nobility” of a “stolen car hi-fi”, maintaining the same rigour and formality of composition.
In the work of Matthew Antezzo references move towards the political sphere and their aesthetics of dramatization. This is epitomized in the portrait of Subcomandante Marcos: the figure who decided to lead the revolution with a touch of self-conscious, alternative elegance and polish. His choice of wearing a balaclava and never showing his face is dictated not only by his need to avoid being recognised but becomes a subtle element of vanity and pleasure.
Jonas Mekas refers to the structures of cinema through its deconstruction, yet in time he has also become a fundamental reference point for cinematography, even in its official channels, which recognise him as an exceptional protagonist of irony and experimentation. The figure of Jonas Mekas – Lithuanian poet, critic, filmaker- looms over the discourse of new American cinema at the beginning of the 1960s which prior to him was largely an underground movement. Through his own effort and commitment he legitimized the whole of avant-garde thought, becoming one of its representative figures. “With his participation in Ref., I intended to acknowledge the intellectual and spiritual journey of this artist, focusing on the particular directorial characteristics which make him the greatest representative of the diarist genre” (Gigiotto del Vecchio). The video in the exhibition, Lonesome day, portrays a domestic and intimate moment in which Mekas films a joking sketch of himself dancing.
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