Marco Meneguzzo

  • passages February 02, 2018

    Enrico Castellani (1930–2017)

    FOR MANY YEARS the painter Enrico Castellani lived in Celleno, an isolated and extremely beautiful village north of Rome, where cell-phone service is only intermittent and the trattorias await groups from outside the city walls or the occasional wedding celebration to see new faces. Almost a hermitage, it precisely reflected his character, so secure was he about his own work that he had no need to speak about it. He might perhaps have preferred to say something about a centuries-old rose garden growing on the terraces of the half-ruined castle he inhabited, or about the fate of small bookshops

  • Arcangelo Sassolino

    The work of Arcangelo Sassolino does not follow the trend toward dematerialization that seems to apply to so much contemporary art. In his hands, material assertively occupies space: The “life of matter” makes itself felt—through noises, metamorphoses, structural tensions, and often-violent movements. Canto V (all works 2016), a sixteen-foot tree trunk, sawed longitudinally into thick beams and suspended in midair, was subjected to extreme pressure from a hydraulic jack that bent it first in one direction and then another. A series of creaking noises, something like the sounds that emerge

  • Paolo Cotani

    Paolo Cotani (1940–2011) first gained acclaim in the 1970s as one of the protagonists of Pittura Analitica (Analytical Painting). This movement, particularly in Italy, France, and Germany, aimed to scrutinize painting’s social issues, psychological motives, and linguistic effects. At that time, painting was seen as an obsolete expressive tool, under attack by Arte Povera and a younger generation of conceptually minded artists. Cotani superimposed monochromatic bands of colored fabric in a quest for a painting that resisted the medium’s conventions while using a recognizable, even canonic, form.

  • Jeff Elrod

    Jeff Elrod’s work exploits some of the possibilities offered by digital graphics yet still maintains a traditional visual apparatus. At first glance, it even seems to exemplify a familiar type of abstraction that is cold and formally very composed. In fact, his extremely large canvases are made using an ink-jet printing technique, with marks typical of various computer programs (MS Paint, Photoshop, Illustrator) enormously enlarged so viewers can see the sequence of rectilinear strokes that make up every type of curve. Not everything in his work, however, is digital; in the long process that

  • passages February 12, 2016

    Hema Upadhyay (1972–2015)

    THE PHOTO BY WHICH I REMEMBER Hema Upadhyay shows her alongside The Great Game, the work she created for the Iranian pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale, where Mazdak Faiznia and I had invited her to participate: a glass cabinet, jam-packed with little multicolored clay birds, each holding a message or a fragment of a story in its beak to be brought to the far corners of the earth, flying beyond any border. Thinking now about how Upadhyay’s life (she was born in Vadodara, India, in 1972) has been brutally cut short in Mumbai, in a crime whose reasons are still obscure, provokes a sorrow that

  • Luciano Fabro

    These two shows, at both Galleria Christian Stein locations, in central Milan and in the suburb of Pero, constitute a veritable retrospective of the work of Luciano Fabro (1936–2007). The first venue almost entirely recapitulates the artist’s first show, in 1965, at Milan’s Galleria Vismara. In the larger space on the outskirts of the city, a series of key works—including examples of his sculptural cycles Piedi (Feet), 1968–2000; Italia (Italy), 1968–2007; Attaccapanni (Clothes Hangers), 1976–84; and Computer, 1988–2007—provides a comprehensive view of his practice, in an exemplary

  • Bruno Munari

    It is a difficult task to condense into one exhibition all the branches of visual research undertaken by the Milanese designer and inventor Bruno Munari (1907–1998). His output spanned from the late 1920s—when he participated in the so-called Second Futurism movement—to the final years of his life, when he staked out a position as an artist. In the intervening sixty years, he eschewed rigid disciplinary boundaries, applying his concept of design to a broad range of visual practices. For this reason, his work has historically been most revered in such fields as industrial and graphic

  • passages December 15, 2015

    Salvo (1947–2015)

    IT WAS 1975, and although very young, I still remember the annoyance I felt at seeing a very small image of San Giorgio e il Drago (Saint George and the Dragon) by Salvo, published in the weekly column of a popular magazine. I was already hanging out in the art world—my father was an artist of some renown in Italy—and while the reproduction of that work was scarcely bigger than a stamp and one amid many others on a page with art-world announcements, its pastel colors seemed scandalous to me, in light of the reigning Conceptualism, analytical rigor, and “black-and-white” aesthetic of those years.

  • John Armleder

    The first of the three rooms in which John Armleder’s motley exhibition unfolded was the most evocative. A series of illuminated road signs composed of LED lights blinked amid a fog that enveloped visitors’ feet, as fog does in B-horror-movie cemeteries, or on certain winter evenings in the lowlands of Europe. The Blue Danube, performed by pianist Josef Lhévinne, played in the background. Nine large black-and-gold abstract paintings from 2015, each featuring a variation of the same geometric shape, hung on the walls in such a way that they constructed a visual horizon that might have reminded

  • Davide Mosconi

    The 1960s and ’70s were marked by interdisciplinarity. Yet artists whose work was too interdisciplinary often suffered, as viewers and critics found it difficult to situate their output within a well-defined linguistic territory. In recent years, we have witnessed a series of rediscoveries and reevaluations of figures (think of Ettore Sottsass or Gio Ponti) working during that period whose efforts spanned many disciplines, inhabiting a sort of no-man’s-land. The work of Milanese Davide Mosconi (1941–2002)—an artist who moved fluidly among music, photography, and design—might be considered

  • Kasper Sonne

    “Bad Chemistry,” Kasper Sonne’s first solo show in Italy, included an intriguing cross section of the artist’s work. On view were canvases from his “TXC” series, 2013–; an installation titled The Impurity of Purity, 2014, made up of a group of glass and plastic containers; and the 2014 video that lent its name to the exhibition. The canvases, in aluminum frames, are monochromes on which the artist has poured chemical solvents that destroy their painted surfaces, creating halos, streaks, and gradations of corrosion. The containers hold rainwater, which viewers might at first associate with

  • Fabio Mauri

    Fabio Mauri was an intellectual par excellence, and while the twentieth century all too readily supplied the subjects of his politically engaged work, it was the age of Enlightenment that provided him with a model of ethical responsibility. Although he was born into an extremely well-to-do family and thus able to observe his era without the compromises dictated by material need, his privileged background served only to heighten his sense of obligation. He became determined to act as a witness to his time with all its misfortunes as a sort of custodian of the world’s memory, a sentinel keeping

  • picks September 04, 2012

    Giovanni Ozzola

    It’s not easy to find an art gallery as beautiful as Doppelgaenger, which occupies nearly five thousand square feet over three floors in a sixteenth-century palazzo in the heart of Bari’s historic city center. Lovers of the contemporary often harbor some melancholic feelings about the ancient—born, perhaps, of a hidden need for security, which spaces like these arouse and fulfill. And this exhibition by Giovanni Ozzola, a thirty-year-old Tuscan artist who has lived in London for several years, does not escape this desire for continuity. Ozzola presents engravings on slate slabs that indicate

  • Gianfranco Baruchello

    You don’t know where to look first in Gianfranco Baruchello’s paintings. Very small drawings, meticulous and extremely precise, populate large canvases, where the whiteness of the ground dominates. As the eye traverses the void, it discovers possible narrative connections among these “atoms,” which are made up of figures, objects, and written phrases that come together in fragile groups to which we seek to give meaning, precisely as we attribute a shape to some stars in the firmament, calling them a constellation. Or perhaps it is like a contemporary score in the style of John Cage, in which

  • Atelier Van Lieshout

    “New Tribal Labyrinth” was the latest chapter in Atelier Van Lieshout’s ongoing saga about a world destined to regress to small social groups dominated by a primordial struggle for survival. And yet at first glance, the sixteen new works shown in Milan—both large and small sculptures—didn’t convey this theme; one might have thought this was simply an exhibition of biomorphic abstract sculpture. In The Farm (all works 2011), vaguely organic forms made from foam, rice paper, and fiberglass seem to issue directly from the spatial play between solid and void à la Henry Moore or Isamu

  • Jacob Hashimoto

    Armada, 1999/2011, is the ironic title that Jacob Hashimoto gave to his 724 sailboats in wood and canvas. Each one hangs from a thread, floating in the air as if it were in a cove ruffled by long, rhythmically rising and falling waves. The work’s title brings to mind the invincible Spanish fleet, destined to invade England in the sixteenth century but repulsed and miserably shipwrecked before it could demonstrate its puissance. Hashimoto’s ships also evoke a different illusion of power, however, the kind a child might feel as he contemplates a flotilla of toys, all the same, so numerous they

  • Mario Dondero

    Mario Dondero, born in Milan in 1928, is a press photographer. His simultaneous—but belated—presence in two art galleries says something about the art system and its need to rediscover expressive currents buried in history, given the lack of anything truly new within the contemporary artistic panorama. This nostalgic operation gives us, in Dondero’s case, a protagonist of the image, but it also tells us that at this point there is no longer any boundary between the art world and that of photography, since Dondero proudly states that he is “simply” a press photographer and that his

  • Victor Alimpiev

    Two screens, one very large, one average in size, were in two different rooms, although both were at least partly visible from a single position. On them the same scene was running, but unsynchronized—or so we might at first have thought. In fact, the footage shown on the two channels was not identical, but both screens showed the same four young women guiding a small group of people up a short ramp; their movement is extremely slow, almost imperceptible, and they hold red banners, stirred by a light breeze, while the protagonist makes small, insignificant gestures. The sequence lasts about

  • Not Vital

    What is a Mongolian tent, in perfect working order, doing in a park in Engadine, the beautiful valley in southeastern Switzerland where Not Vital was born? In fact, the park is actually a project that Vital has built over the years with many of his works, and the tent is part of the same declaration of poetics—and poetic action—that he has been developing for years, without which an understanding of his practice would be incomplete. In 1990, Vital built a hospital in Nepal with proceeds from the sale of bronze castings of the dung from Engadine’s cows; lately, his ethnic, social, and humanitarian

  • Elger Esser

    Elger Esser spent his youth in Rome before becoming a student of Bernd Becher in Düsseldorf, where he currently lives. This exhibition gave a general overview of Esser’s work via eight pieces, each representing the nearly constant repetition of the same scheme: the horizon between sky, earth, and water. Such extreme specialization—along with reiteration—of subject matter is the prerogative of many present-day photographers, in the same way that seventeenth-century Dutch landscape painters concentrated on only certain types of imagery—seascapes, snowy townscapes, or rustic summertime views—for