(Italiano) Paolo Canevari: Materia Oscura

curated by Marco Tonelli and Lorenzo Fiorucci
Open to the public from 4 July (15.30) to 13 September 2020
Appartamento Nobile, Palazzo Collicola – Spoleto

Project realised thanks to the Exhibit Program | Directorate General for Contemporary Creativity of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism

Although all of Paolo Canevari‘s work can naturally be said to be “in black” and has always been conveying obscure contents, no one would ever think to relate it to disturbing facts of our existence exactly when we experience them. But art has a role in history, especially when it tells us something profound about the times we live in, like them or not; in this sense Canevari’s work is as relevant as ever.

The black hole of the pandemic that has shaken the world’s economy, affections, social relations, vision of public and private life, is in some ways an integral part of the tragic and recurring stories that characterize our global era: Canevari’s work lies exactly in this flow.

An articulated exhibition at Palazzo Collicola, in a path that winds from outside the museum with a real symbol (a sculpture unpublished and specially made for the occasion) of the freedoms suspended during months of lockdown around the world and of the many losses that have made the US the nation with the highest number of victims (100.000 at the time of writing): the Freedom of the Monuments of Memory cycle (the statue that illuminates the world, better known as the Statue of Liberty) landed on the external base of the sculpture in Piazza Collicola. While waiting to get up again in a definitive way, the work presents itself as a monument not to forget, to remember and to overcome a collective mourning and an evil that is not yet defeated.

A sign that contemporary art can and must at times confront us with the hardest and most tragic reality, communicating the violence of our times without rhetoric, without false embellishments, even at the cost of posing as an anxious, perturbing object.

Materia oscura (Dark Matter) unwinds then inside the Piano Nobile of Palazzo Collicola, following a path that sees the exhibition of more recent works (sculptures and drawings) from the Monumenti della memoria cycle created between 2016 and 2020 (Vasi, Altare, Tappeto, Landscape), historical sculptures such as Lupe Romane, ThANKS, Colossei and J.M.B. and a selection of video works from the 2000s inspired by the theme of fire such as Burning Skull, Burning Gun, Burning Colosseum, Burning Mein Kampf.

In the contrast between the magnificence of the Appartamento Nobile, the 18th century residence of the Collicola family, rich in antique paintings, gilded frames, frescoes and precious marbles, and Canevari’s “dirty”, cathartic work, a mechanism of alarm, emergency, surprise is intentionally set in motion, keeping the conscience of history awake, in a continuous, interrupted flow back and forth between past, present and future.

Paolo Canevari (Rome, 1963). After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, in 1999 he participated in the XIII Quadriennale in Rome and in 2000 he had solo exhibitions in Rome at the Stefania Miscetti Gallery and the Center for Academic Resources in Bangkok. In 2001 he held solo exhibitions in Siena at the Palazzo delle Papesse and many others between 2002 and 2019 at the Christian Stein Gallery in Milan. In 2004 he held the solo show Welcome to OZ at P.S.1 in New York curated by Alanna Heiss, in 2006 A Couple of Things I Have to Tell You at the Sean Kelly Gallery in New York and presented the work Rubber Car at MART in Trento and Rovereto as part of the exhibition Mitomacchina, and also participated in the Peace Tower project at the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennale in New York.

In 2007 he exhibited at MACRO in Rome with the solo show Paolo Canevari – Nothing from Nothing, and participated in the LII Venice Biennale curated by Robert Storr with the video Bouncing Skull, which will become part of the permanent collection of the MoMA in New York. In 2008 he held the solo show Decalogo at the Istituto Centrale per la grafica-Calcografia Nazionale in Rome, while in 2010 he held the solo show Paolo Canevari – Nobody Knows at the Pecci Museum in Prato, curated by Germano Celant and the solo show Odi et Amo at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome. In 2011 the solo show Decalogue at the historic institution The Drawing Center in New York is curated by Brett Littman and in 2015 it is included in Arts&Foods. Rituals since 1851, curated by Celant at the Triennale di Milano, as part of the events of Expo Milano.

In 2015 the permanent work Souvenir is presented at the Olnick Spanu Art Program space in Garrison (New York) and in 2018 he is invited to the first Bangkok Biennale. His drawings from the 1990s series Memoria Mia are published in the book of short stories I tacchini non ringraziano by Andrea Camilleri. In 2020 he participated in the following exhibitions: Selfportrait of the artist as a clown at the Gallery Antwerp & Knokke, La Rivoluzione Siamo Noi Collezionismo italiano contemporaneo and Urban Landscapes Human Code at Dip Contemporary Art in Lugano.

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