Teresita Fernández’s seventh solo exhibition with Lehmann Maupin, coinciding with her monumental sculptural installation Fata Morgana, currently installed in Madison Square Park in New York, showcases her newest sculptural works—intimate interior landscapes in concrete, cast bronze, and highly-detailed glazed ceramic. Best known for her unique installations and immersive public projects, Fernández explores ideas of the figure in the landscape, the natural world, the extremes of scale, as well as the act of looking. Fernández’s conceptually-based, research-intensive process of art making often contains many layers of diverse cultural and historical references; she uses devices such as proportion and unconventional material to draw the viewer into her work, evoking an individualized experience of engagement that prompts questions of both place and way-finding. The artist will be present for an opening reception at the gallery on Friday, November 6 from 6-8PM.
Fernández’s newest body of work continues her exploration and interest in scale as an elastic concept, and the correlation between the immense and the intimate; the vast and the miniature; the macro and the micro. Shrinking the viewpoint in order to amplify what we see, Fernández worked with malachite mineral rocks, using imaging techniques to look at their interiors. What initiated Fernández’s interest in exploring the inside of these heavy, earth-bound materials was their uncanny likeness to the actual full-sized landscape of the Vińales Valley, an iconic and surreal landscape in rural Cuba. The artist draws parallels between her exploration of the malachite rocks and her experience of entering the elaborate cave systems in Vińales. In both situations Fernández enters a landscape both visually and physically, inhabiting extremes of darkness and light, inside and outside, containment and amplification. In her new works, images of the Vińales landscape seamlessly merge with those of the malachite rocks that originate from the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as with the sculptural materials themselves (concrete, bronze, ceramic) that come from other landscapes, creating what Fernández considers metaphorical “stacked landscapes” with multiple layers of references to place. The central sculpture in the exhibition, Vińales (Reclining Nude), is a horizontal configuration of trapezoidal cast concrete structures of various sizes and heights with descending malachite and bronze forms that evoke the sprawling, verdant landscape from distant to close-up perspectives. As viewers engage with the full-round sculpture, the suggested landscape expands and contracts, prompting viewers to visually construct the image and become the size of what they are looking at.
The exhibition also includes three large-scale panels in glazed ceramic. The panels’ saturated greens and abstracted images are inspired by the karstic landscape of the Vińales Valley with its otherworldly mogotes (rare, limestone tower formations) and cave interiors, as well as the magnified surfaces of mineral specimens. Again, the material used here, clay, is derived from a physical earthbound location, yet used to depict an unrelated, imagined landscape, creating an accumulation of material references that redefine any conventional sense of the word “landscape,” suggesting that we are in fact, in many places at once.
Fernández has also created a series of darkened, intimately sized ink and graphite drawings mounted on wooden panels. Recalling the artist’s earlier Rorscharch pieces and echoing the natural mirroring found in the Vińales landscape, the subtle images play with darkness and distortion to further explore ideas of interior and exterior and the vast contained in the miniature.
Fata Morgana will be on view in Madison Square Park, New York through 2015. Fernández has created a series of free, public performances by dancers, musicians, and spoken-word poets intended to take place underneath the reflective surfaces of this monumental public installation. The next performance in the series, Luminous Mischief, will take place on Friday, October 30 at 6PM. Fernández will welcome internationally acclaimed choreographer Stephen Petronio and his company of dancers to activate the space of public art with an array of interactions between a citywide assembly of performers and passersby in the Park. The artist has also been commissioned by Grace Farms Foundation in New Canaan, Connecticut to create a site-specific mural, Double Glass River, which was unveiled in October 2015.
Continuing the Whitechapel Gallery’s programme opening up rarely seen art collections for everyone, a series of four chronological displays launching this September highlights works from the Barjeel Art Foundation’s rich collection. Artists from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and elsewhere in the region tell the story of Arab art from the modern to the contemporary period.
This first display of works explores the emergence and subsequent development of an Arab art aesthetic through drawings and paintings from the early twentieth century to 1967, an important historical period in the region.
Display highlights include a portrait painting of a young woman in profile by Armenian-Egyptian artist Ervand Demirdjian titled Nubian Girl, which is believed to be one of the earliest works in the collection made between 1900 – 10.
An early career painting by Dia Azzawi, recognised as one of Iraq’s most influential living artists, is also on show alongside Kadhim Hayder’s painting of symbolic white horses titled Fatigued Ten Horses Converse with Nothing (The Martyrs Epic) (1965).
The display ends with Hamed Ewais’s Le Guardien de la vie (1967-8), a large-scale oil painting that depicts a fighter, weapon in hand, while underneath him everyday events such as a wedding taking place and a child riding a bike are shown, suggesting the possibility of societal renewal following the collapse of the Pan-Arab ideal after the Six-Day War in 1967.
Cardi gallery is pleased to present Enrico Castellani: Alla radice del non illusorio (At the roots of the not illusory). On display is a selection of 15 works from the 1960s to the 2000s.
The artistic practice of Enrico Castellani can be placed inside the abstraction trend: an abstract art that is self-referential, structural and constructive, with minimal and conceptual influences overtaking those of the informal vitalism of both Europe and America. The similarities lie rather with the optical and kinetic art of the T Group in the '60s, or with the work of the Zero Group in Germany.
Bonded to classic means such as canvas, frames and nails, Castellani overtakes the informal in favour of a plastic and visual expression that results in a cold and impersonal style of painting, often characterized by monochrome surfaces organized three-dimensionally by way of elevation and depression, empty and full spaces, eversion and introflections. The surface is conceived in a dynamic way—geometrically structured, rationally designed, and innervated by minimal and primary articulations in which there's no virtual or illusory reference.
The only external and modifying intervention is the light that alters the visual perception hitting the outstretched surface. Eschewing spiritual or mystical attitudes, the artist creates a materialistic process to activate the physical or mental perception of a dimension that is theoretically infinite.
Today Castellani is looked up as one of the most important painters of our times. In recent years, he has moved his research away from the idea of creating pictorial objects with an indisputable essence, not subject to interpretation. “The work,” he says, “is what you see.”
He operates on the canvas, sensitizing the surface with elevations (eversion and introflections) with the aim of making it detectable. The canvas is divided in geometric and mental grid patterns in the most impersonal way. The only compositional criterion is concreteness that tends to infinite. His work is characterized by its lucidity; it's essential and free from any emotionality.
Enrico Castellani was born around Rovigo in 1930. He studied art, sculpture and architecture in Belgium until 1956, when he graduated from École Nationale Superieure. The following year he came back to Italy and moved to Milan, where he became one of the most active representatives of the new artistic scene. After his first experiences of Informal art, inspired by American action painting, he felt the urge to overtake this kind of art, collaborating with the magazine Azimuth, which he founded with Piero Manzoni, and elaborating a new beginning that suggested the total resetting of the previous artistic experience.
It was in 1959 that Castellani made his first relief surface, creating what would become his own personal style. With perseverance and severity he defined what the critics called ripetizione differente (different repetition), considered by many critics an extreme purity, where the carefully chosen repetition of empty and full spaces, obtained by the rhythmical eversions of the canvas, establishes a new path at all times, though always coherent and intense.
From that moment on, his research developed around the eversion, but in his coherent production we also find works that distance themselves from the relief surfaces, revealing a lot about the themes dear to the artist, such as time and space. In 1967, he realized Ambiente bianco for the show Lo spazio dell'immagine at Palazzo Trinci in Foligno; in 1968, on the occasion of Il teatro delle mostre at La Tartaruga gallery in Rome, he presented Il muro del tempo; in 1969, he made Spartito; and in 1970, Obelisco.
From his debut until now, the works of Enrico Castellani where shown in many important spaces both private and public.
He took part in the Biennale di Venezia in 1964, 1966 (with a solo show), 1984, and in 2003. In 1965 he took part in the collective show The Responsive Eye at the MOMA in New York and at the VIII San Paulo Biennial in Brazil. In1970, he took part in the collective show Vitalitŕ del negativo nell'arte italiana, curated by Achille Bonito Oliva, at Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome. In 1981, he showed at Identité Italien. L'art en Italie depuis 1959, curated by Germano Celant, at Centre Pompidou in Paris.
In 1983, he showed at Palazzo Reale in Milano for the show Arte Programmata e cinetica 1953–63; in 1994, he was invited to show in The Italian metamorhosis at Salomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
An important anthological show curated by Germano Celant took place at Fondazione Prada in Milan in 2001 and at Kettle's Yard in Cambridge in 2002. In 2005, at Pushkin Museum in Moscow, he had a solo show curated by Bruno Corŕ.
On October 13, 2010, Enrico Castellani received the Imperial Premium for painting from Prince Hitaki, Honorary patron of the Japan Art Association. The award is the highest international artistic recognition.
The show is curated by Annamaria Maggi. With this show, Cardi gallery confirms its interest in historical artists, national or international.