Eugenio Viola

  • picks April 05, 2018

    Lisa Reihana

    “Emissaries,” Lisa Reihana’s New Zealand pavilion at the Fifty-Seventh Venice Biennale, is a poetic, provocative exhibition centered on the clash between two cultures. Its monumental centerpiece, in Pursuit of Venus [infected], 2015–17, is a mesmerizing panorama of a video installation that marshals film, digital tableau vivant, and ethnographic documentary to question stories authored by the country’s white colonizers. The work is inspired by Les sauvages de la Mer Pacifique, 1804–1805, better known as Captain Cook’s Voyages: a French Neoclassical wallpaper designed by Jean-Gabriel Charvet that

  • picks March 27, 2018

    “Time of Change”

    In this exhibition curated by Abdul-Rahman Abdullah and Nur Shkembi, a collective of Australian artists known as Eleven uses its Muslim cultural roots to provocatively destabilize the notion of a clear national identity. Marked by our moment of renewed intolerances, the works on display, skillfully displayed to be in dialogue with one another, convey a complex panorama of history and personal experience that expresses the apprehensions of an increasingly uncertain world.

    The portraits in Iranian-born artist Hoda Afshar’s series “Under Western Eyes,” 2013–14, challenge stereotypes of Islamic women

  • Mirosław Bałka

    Concurrently with Mirosław Bałka’s first retrospective in Italy at Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan, the artist had his fourth solo exhibition at Galleria Raffaella Cortese. The show—spread over the gallery’s three exhibition spaces—was conceived as a journey in stages that would gradually introduce the visitor to motifs of both continuity and divergence in Bałka’s research. Born in Warsaw in 1958, this Polish artist is particularly representative of his generation, and the work presented here made it possible to trace the past three decades of Bałka’s output and to identify his fundamental

  • Marisa Albanese

    Marisa Albanese’s second exhibition at Studio Trisorio was a bitter reflection on the theme of the voyage, from the mythical underpinnings of Mediterranean history and culture to the modern world with all its wounds and contradictions. Visitors were welcomed into the dimly lit gallery by an aluminum tree suspended horizontally in the main space. The sculpture, titled Doppio cielo (Double Sky), 2016, was disturbing in its ambivalence—at once monumental and slender, imposing yet light. Words from Homer’s Odyssey were projected onto the gleaming tree’s surface, recounting the sufferings endured

  • Sergio Vega

    For his third solo exhibition at Galleria Umberto Di Marino, Sergio Vega created a complex network of incongruous elements that was already suggested by the show’s title: “Shamanic Modernism: Parrots, Bossanova and Architecture.” The gallery was transformed into a unique environmental installation comprised of images, sounds, architecture, and elements of nature. In recent years, Vega—working with ruthless irony—has retraced a particular paradisiacal mythology that emerged during South America’s colonization. Many early European explorers interpreted the book of Genesis to suggest that

  • Ann Veronica Janssens

    Employing a range of materials that are carefully chosen to investigate the cognitive processes tied to the sensory experience of reality, Ann Veronica Janssens creates installations that are radically minimal yet exuberantly expressive. The British artist, who lives and works in Brussels, approaches her practice with an almost scientific rigor. Her work draws heavily on physics in its consideration of the properties and variances of matter. Janssens’s sculptures in particular foreground various qualities of light: refraction, reflection, equilibrium, undulation, perspective, luster, transparency,

  • Daniel Knorr

    The ironic title of Daniel Knorr’s third solo show at Galleria Fonti, “Veni Vidi Napoli” (I Came I Saw Napoli), might well imply that not all battles are swiftly won. The Romanian-born Berlin-based artist works in mixed media (photography, video, sculpture, performances, collage, and drawing) to encourage the viewer to consider what lurks beyond serene and sometimes reassuring surfaces, whether in his work or in broader social and political structures.

    This strategy, elaborated in the artist’s writing, was evident in the two series of works that occupied the gallery space. Visitors were welcomed

  • Lina Selander

    Lina Selander’s first exhibition at Galleria Tiziana Di Caro comprised three video installations from the same series with which she is currently representing Sweden at the Fifty-Sixth Venice Biennale. These works, from “Excavation of the Image—Imprint, Shadow, Spectre, Thought,” 2011–15, are tied together with subtle shared references and reveal their impact gradually, through the viewer’s accumulated experience with each subsequent installation. Selander employs video to explore the ways in which history and reality itself are aesthetically reified, while also parsing the relationship

  • Ida Tursic and Wilfried Mille

    Ida Tursic and Wilfried Mille have long sought to redefine painting’s status by wedding the deconstruction of the medium’s linguistic systems with hyperrealistic representation. Via strategies of displacement, ironic reversal, and stylistic quotation—and by channeling a motley crew of forefathers ranging from Cy Twombly to Sigmar Polke, from Niele Toroni to Ed Ruscha and Richard Prince—the Dijon, France–based duo self-reflexively investigate painting’s codes, conditions, and modalities. The artists freely cross-pollinate traditional and contemporary techniques of image reproduction,

  • Tobias Zielony

    Tobias Zielony’s investigation of reality encourages multiple interpretations. The Berlin-based artist’s presentation of eight videos in “Dream Lovers. The Films 2008–2014” allowed those who are familiar with his photographic work to appreciate the thematic contiguity of his research across media, as well as its consistent marriage of the documentary with the abstract. Zielony’s “Dream Lovers” (the title was appropriated from the 1959 song by Bobby Darin) are antiheroes, typically adolescents, who inhabit the artist’s personal pantheon. These precarious protagonists are drawn from the pariahs

  • picks August 19, 2013

    Francesco Vezzoli

    Francesco Vezzoli as Christological triune: Indeed, there are three museums (MAXXI in Rome, MoMA PS1 in New York, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles) that will host the artist’s complex project, “The Trinity,” over the next year. For his first retrospective in the eternal city, the eccentric and renowned artist has created his own personal museum, which fully conveys his ironically self-referential modus operandi that is suspended between allusions of auteur cinema and art history, the defunctionalizing of pop icons and the updating of over-the-hill celebrities, beauty and decadence,

  • picks July 22, 2013

    “Emergency Pavilion: Rebuilding Utopia”

    Does utopia have a place in the twenty-first century? Does it make sense today to speak about an ideal world? Is the utopian impulse is limited to artists and those who still have some poetic legitimacy in a world characterized by a predilection for the mechanistic? These are some of the questions addressed by this small but intriguing exhibition curated by Jota Castro, a collateral event of this year’s Venice Biennale. A banner by Emily Jacir hangs on the facade of the Teatro Fondamenta Nuova and reads SOLIDARIDAD (Solidarity). Inside, Jacir presents five audio works that reenact speeches given

  • picks April 08, 2013

    Evgeny Antufiev

    This intriguing exhibition—the latest of Evgeny Antufiev—is a path to some other realm: A climate of separateness is emphasized from the start by the artist’s requirement that visitors don disposable overshoes, sanctioning entry into another dimension. One has the impression of traversing an unreal place, charged with an archaic but simultaneously artificial mysticism, an archeology of the present rooted in times and cultures that are alien and yet recognizable in their otherness.

    White is the dominant color. On the walls, masks and handmade articles awaken childhood legacies and obscure rituals,

  • picks March 14, 2013

    Giulia Piscitelli

    Giulia Piscitelli’s research entrusts its poetic power to nuances, to the revival of fragility and the ephemeral, to the revaluation of small things and gestures. She investigates tensions in the aesthetic redemption of the quotidian; her process often favors minimal intervention, a focus on microevents or micronarrations that lead, as if by magic, to epiphanic experiences of those nearby. Magic as art has the power to modify reality, an equation that Piscitelli reintroduces with “Sim Sala Bim,” the title she borrowed from an exclamation that will be familiar to those, like this writer, who were

  • picks January 08, 2013

    Liam Gillick

    The title of Four propositions six structures, 2012, drily and rigorously describes the project by Liam Gillick inaugurating the new Galleria Artiaco space in the evocative Palazzo del Principe Raimondo De Sangro. This site-specific work heralds a series of lectures that the artist will give next year at Columbia University, yet it is here, in this gallery, that his ideas are illustrated. While the works each address different points, as a whole they constitute a visual compendium of Gillick’s theory and practice over the past twenty-five years. Dates and declarations presented on the wall, such

  • picks December 05, 2012

    Adel Abdessemed

    Je suis innocent” (I am innocent) is an intriguing exhibition that does a good job of conveying the visual and emotional complexity of Adel Abdessemed––a frequently censored artist. His work skillfully intersects heterogeneous references and draws without distinction from both the history of art and current events. At the Centre Pompidou, expository writing marries this Franco-Algerian artist’s iconoclastic practice with the grand tradition of Western realism. Matthais Grünewald’s tormented Christ from the Isenheim Altarpiece, 1515, is reduced to a serialized sign when placed in equipoise to

  • picks December 03, 2012

    “Francis Bacon and the Existential Condition in Contemporary Art”

    While any attempt at imitating Francis Bacon would irremediably descend into mannerism, this aptly titled exhibition, “Francis Bacon and the Existential Condition in Contemporary Art,” gestures at artistic lessons that can be gleaned from the twentieth-century master. Curators Franziska Nori and Barbara Dawson juxtapose the work of five contemporary artists with some of Bacon’s more private and unusual works, all rarely exhibited in Italy. The result effectively conveys the artist’s modus operandi: photos cut out and glued together; reproductions of works by Michelangelo or Velázquez, torn from

  • picks March 08, 2012

    Gavin Russom

    For his current solo exhibition, musician, producer, and artist Gavin Russom presents a heterogeneous gathering of mixed-media works, which he made without with his frequent collaborator, Delia Gonzalez. The attitude that underpins Russom’s interdisciplinary practice––including his meandering experimental music––is ironically reasserted by the show’s title: “Zombi (scratch mix).”

    Here Russom stages a symbolic scene that is equally as inspired by a cult horror movie (Lucio Fulci’s 1979 Zombie 2) as it is by disquieting events. The opening scene of Fulci’s film shows an abandoned yacht floating in

  • picks September 07, 2011

    Jake and Dinos Chapman

    We have long been accustomed to thinking of the work of the Chapman brothers as a monad, a single unit that shares methodologies and practices through a process unknown to us. Provocateurs by profession, this time, at least according to them, they have worked separately to autonomously produce the works in the current solo show, “Jake or Dinos Chapman,” which is divided between White Cube’s two locations. I must admit that it remains difficult if not impossible to attribute work to either brother. At Mason’s Yard, viewers are welcomed by a series of semiabstract sculptures with evocative forms

  • picks July 05, 2011

    Arte essenziale

    In a time when many continue to lament what they see as the inexorable decline of theory’s role in criticism, “Arte essenziale” (Essential Art), curated by philosopher Federico Ferrari, does its part to placate concerns with an exploration of the ties that link artistic practice and philosophical speculation. The show focuses on the Wesen, or essence, of a work of art—a notion that has always been inextricably linked with a search for the new. “For any truly radical gesture that might affirm itself today, the question of essence comes to expression through a clear confrontation with tradition