Francesca Pola

  • View of “Ettore Spalletti,” 2019. Background: Dittico, oro 9 (Diptych, Gold 9), 2019. From left: Vado di sole (I Go For the Sun), 2018; Ma, sì, azzurro (But, Yes, Blue), 2018.

    Ettore Spalletti

    Ettore Spalletti’s exhibition at the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco opened at the institution’s Villa Paloma space only a few months before the artist’s death this past October. As a consequence, the show, titled “Ombre d’azur, transparence” (Azure Shadow, Transparency), took on the significance of a spiritual testament—one both radical and poetic. Featuring some thirty paintings, sculptures, and works on paper made between 1981 and 2019, the presentation traced a path that unfolded according to sensory connections rather than to chronology. Paying homage to color and light, to clarity and

  • Flavio Favelli, Afgacolor, 2019, neon, 21 5⁄8 × 65 × 4".

    Flavio Favelli

    In his exhibition “Afgacolor,” Flavio Favelli proposed an alienating, intense, and surprising path, inviting us on an emotional journey into the recent history of one of the countries that feature most dramatically in the contemporary news: Afghanistan. The fact that Favelli has never visited the country in person served as a warning against giving the exhibition any journalistic or illustrative interpretation.

    Favelli’s work has always moved easily among techniques, materials, and methodologies. Here, viewers encountered (among other things) a neon work, a sculptural column made of metal trays,

  • View of “Günter Umberg,” 2019. From left: Untitled, 1996; Untitled, 1999.
    picks November 05, 2019

    Günter Umberg

    The German artist Günter Umberg here proposes a path through an expansive conceptual environment by establishing a direct relationship—both cerebral and phenomenological—between his monochrome objects, made up of complex, stratified pigments, and works by Italian artists engaged in a dialogue around spaces, surfaces, and tactility. Umberg, who has a profound knowledge of the country’s art from the 1970s to the present, chose to include protagonists from different generations in the exhibition: Lucio Fontana, Mario Nigro, Piero Dorazio, and Emilio Vedova from the immediate postwar years; Rodolfo

  • Pieter Vermeersch, 8 Paintings I, 1999, eight oil-on-canvas paintings, each 16 1⁄2 × 13 3⁄4".

    Pieter Vermeersch

    The clearest and most unequivocal feeling that viewers gleaned from this show of Pieter Vermeersch’s work—conceived by the artist specifically for the spaces of M-Museum in Leuven and curated by Eva Wittocx—was one of complete immersion, space after space, in what we might call the essence of painting: thought distilled into color. Vermeersch provided this potent sensory experience in part via the installation of five monumental painted walls, or what he calls “gradient murals.” He achieved the murals’ monochrome fading via innumerable tonal variations—yet the effect felt physically real, as if

  • Pino Pinelli, Pittura R (Painting R), 1974, triptych, acrylic on canvas, each part 90 1⁄2 × 35 3⁄8".

    Pino Pinelli

    The show, “Monocromo (1973–1976): Il colore come destino e come profezia” (Monochrome [1973–1976]: Color as Destiny and as Prophecy) presented a rare occasion to revisit the early work of the Italian artist Pino Pinelli, who in the early 1970s played a leading role in developing a new, distinctive way of interpreting monochromy, one of the emblematic manifestations of twentieth-century painting. From the beginning, Pinelli’s intention was to avoid any symbolic or expressive reference and instead to redefine painting in terms of concreteness and physicality, by treating color itself as a material

  • Valentina D’Amaro, Untitled, 2016, oil on canvas, 17 3/4 x 25 5/8''. From the series “Viridis,” 2016–19.
    picks June 26, 2019

    Simon Callery and Valentina D’Amaro

    UK-born Simon Callery and Italian Valentina D’Amaro propose very different, equally unconventional variations on contemporary landscape painting in this two-person exhibition. The first room is devoted to Callery’s recent “contact paintings,” 2018–19, a series created during and after his sojourn in Rome last winter as an Abbey fellow in painting at the city’s British School. Large canvases soaked in monochrome pigments, each a different color but all in naturalistic tones (such as ocher, orange, blue, green), are covered with holes and lacerations: indices of physical contact between the works’

  • Anna Maria Maiolino, Untitled, 2014, acrylic ink on paper, 17 7⁄8 × 12". From the series “Filogenéticos” (Phylogenetics).

    Anna Maria Maiolino

    This exhibition of the work of Anna Maria Maiolino, the largest retrospective ever devoted to the Italian-Brazilian artist, journeys through more than four hundred drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, and installations dating from the 1960s to the present. Beginning with the most recent work, the show leads viewers backward in time to the origins of an extraordinary creative vision, characterized by a human intensity that is as surprising as it is irresistible.

    Within this reverse-chronological progression, the artist sets up a series of different emotional zones. These groupings

  • View of “The Severed Language,” 2019.
    picks May 20, 2019

    “The Severed Language”

    This group exhibition, spanning five decades, surveys the rupture and fragmentation of contemporary language through the output of three leading Italian artists who, since the 1960s, have examined the ever-mutating codes of verbal-visual communication. Nanni Balestrini, Gianni Pettena, and Gianni Emilio Simonetti deconstruct hypervisible language, pitting its rhetoric and authority against itself. They extract phrases and words from the universe of mass media—newspapers and cartoons, advertising spots and institutional announcements—fragmenting syntax and working to subvert stereotypes: See

  • Elger Esser, Shivta Israel, 2015, C-print, 72 1⁄2 × 90".

    Elger Esser

    Made between 2005 and 2017, the photographs in Elger Esser’s recent show proposed a sort of conceptual short circuit in which images of granular precision, transposed to dreamlike dimensions, assumed an otherworldly coloration and brilliance. One could discern specific sites visited by the artist during his travels in the Middle East (Egypt, Israel, Lebanon) and France’s Normandy and Giverny—the last setting immediately and deliberately recalling the luminous revolution of plein air painting by Claude Monet and other Impressionists. The absolute realism of these photographic landscapes, evident

  • Simone Forti, Flag in the water, 2014, digital video, color, sound, 19 minutes 46 seconds.

    Simone Forti

    This high-intensity presentation of Simone Forti’s multifaceted work established a dialogue between different creative moments and expressive typologies in the oeuvre of this extraordinary Italian-American artist, choreographer, dancer, and writer. Beginning in the 1960s under the inspiration of her then mentor, Anna Halprin, Forti was among the pioneers of artistic investigations based on an awareness of the body as a medium for movement, an identification with elementary phenomena of sound and rhythm, and the potential for expressive freedom offered by unconventional actions. The broader

  • View of “Oscuro/Orizzontale/Verticale,” 2018.
    picks December 17, 2018

    Nelio Sonego

    Visitors to the main room of Nelio Sonego’s two-floor, site-specific exhibition encounter what appears to be the aftermath an earthquake. Instead of being conventionally aligned, the canvases in “Oscuro/Orizzontale/Verticale” (Dark/Horizontal/Vertical), each made in 2018, have been hung aslant and at times overlap with one another, as if to choreograph a kind of stuttered dance of vertical forms. While the free gestural marks that are characteristic of this artist—who has been a prominent figure of Italian abstract painting since the late 1970s—are on display, a new vigor charges the titular

  • View of “Carla Accardi,” 2018, Francesca Minini, Milan.
    picks October 16, 2018

    Carla Accardi

    Carla Accardi’s marks—remote yet imminent—conjure shining cosmic fibers, like constellations from the future. Entire galaxies can now be seen in one project spanning two cities and venues, both of which highlight later works of the Italian postwar avant-garde pioneer, who died in 2014. At Galleria Massimo Minini in Brescia, works on paper from the late 1960s are put in dialogue with ones dating from 2001 to 2010; Milan’s Francesca Minini gallery displays paintings made between 2003 and 2010.

    Accardi’s vibrant signs—in these galleries, rendered on floor pieces, Sicofoil, and traditional