Marta Silvi

  • picks February 17, 2020

    Alessandro Scarabello

    The title of Alessandro Scarabello’s sixth exhibition here, “I Still Paint,” is both ironic and emblematic. The artist has always immersed himself in the language of painting, pushing his practice to engage with the medium’s myriad possibilities. In recent years, alongside a move from Rome to Brussels, Scarabello has begun to abandon his interest in the human figure (evident in his scarecrows and masks, for example). He hasn’t given up, however, the seduction of disguise, theater, mystery, or myth (see Prometeus [Prometheus], 2017); now his subjects seem to emerge from a metaphysical imagination,

  • picks December 17, 2019

    Giuseppe De Mattia

    This exhibition welcomes viewers with Frutta e verdura (all works 2019), a neon-green sign that names Giuseppe De Mattia’s ostensible subject, “fruit and vegetables.” The text’s font, created from the artist’s handwriting, “signs” the intervention as his own, while a strong odor of plants fills the surrounding green void. The next room, accessed by walking under the neon, contains Espositore di frutta e verdura vera e finta, Roma (Display of real and fake fruit and vegetables, Rome), an exaggeratedly vertical, stainless-steel display of an array of produce. Colored tissue paper printed with a

  • picks October 23, 2019

    Stano Filko

    Scattered throughout Stano Filko’s artistic production—pneumatic sculptures, utopian architectures, cosmograms, and more—are the same well-articulated conceits that defined his life. In a 2006 interview, Hans Ulrich Obrist called Filko’s house “a universe of fluctuation and instability.” It was there that the artist gave material existence to his ideas, using a transcendent, complex system that subdivided his home into five different areas designated by colors— red indicating the space of biology, green the area of social activity, white the sphere of existence, blue the dimension of the cosmos,

  • picks April 19, 2019

    Claire Fontaine

    La borsa o la vita (“your money or your life”) is a typical old-school demand used by bandits in Italy. Wordplay is nothing new for Claire Fontaine, the Palermo-based conceptual collective, and it is evident in the title of this retrospective exhibition, “La borsa e la vita” (Your Money and Your Life): o (“or”) becomes e (“and”), reminding us that borsa in Italian means both handbag and stock exchange. As if the gallery were still undergoing installation, the floor is covered with pages of newspaper—selections from the financial broadsheet Il Sole 24 Ore (Newsfloor, Il Sole 24 Ore, 2019), evoking

  • picks May 21, 2018

    Ian Tweedy

    “My Wall,” the title of this exhibition, feels like a statement. After an absence of many years, American artist Ian Tweedy has returned to Rome, the city where he took decisive steps in his art after a prolific career as a street and graffiti artist who went by the name Dephect. His return affirms an unavoidable need: to reclaim possession of the pictorial surface. Thus there is a perceptible swerve in his research. He abandons the small format he employed a decade or so ago with well-known compositions characterized by meticulous brushstrokes on old linen book jackets—works that formed the “

  • picks November 20, 2017

    Mircea Cantor

    A charged olfactory environment meets visitors to Mircea Cantor’s latest show. The perfume of Aleppo soap fills one’s nostrils: a unique smell, indelible for those who have walked at least once through Syrian souks.

    In addition to the soap, water and peace lilies, which are known to purify the air, (in Disrupted Air (Still Life), 2017) fill Cantor’s exhibition. The artist seems to create a hymn to rebirth, framing it as an indispensable contemporary condition. But for Cantor, that restoration is also a consequence of ruin and loss—of heritage, traditions, sociopolitical equanimity, freedom, and

  • picks June 22, 2017

    Domenico Mangano and Marieke van Rooy

    In the 1970s, the Dutch town of Den Dolder embarked on an experimental attempt at communal living known as “dilation,” whereby psychiatric patients find healing and freedom by residing side by side with healthier people. In this show, organized by Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk, Domenico Mangano’s film Homestead of Dilution, 2016—halfway between documentary and dream—portrays the legacy of the practice in a cross section of Den Dolder’s current community.

    Issues of mental health are already familiar to the Italian-born, Netherlands-based Mangano, who is collaborating with architectural historian

  • picks May 25, 2017

    Krištof Kintera

    Exhibitions of such a high caliber are rare. Marking the decade that’s passed since the Collezione Maramotti opened its spaces to the public, Czech artist Krištof Kintera has created a hymn of sorts to humanity’s abilities, the “systematic treatment of art” offered by technology (when considered for its etymological roots, technē and logia), and the detritus and waste that are now an unavoidable part of life on earth. Kintera’s show extends beyond the exhibition space into the city of Reggio Emilia. He has, for instance, replaced plants in the Musei Civici’s Wunderkammer, created by eighteenth-century

  • picks April 21, 2017

    Athena Papadopoulos

    Crossing the threshold of the space, viewers are wooed by an enveloping atmosphere of red and pink. Part of the show’s title, the term “Belladonna” has connotations as numerous as the properties that characterize the homonymous plant: It can be therapeutic or sedative if taken in small quantities; cosmetic if applied in the form of eye drops, which, by expanding the pupil, can make the eyes seem shinier; or noxious and even lethal if ingested in higher doses. Athena Papadopoulos has constructed an exhibition of contrasting ideas to parallel this flora’s connotations, with beauty and disgust

  • picks March 26, 2017

    Gina Folly

    Gina Folly’s latest, uncanny exhibition, “I want you to live in my city,” is a simple but evocative show that suits this gallery’s new space, a former stable in the courtyard of a prestigious building. Here, Folly produces an intimate environment: Five small projections (Basic Needs I, II, III, IV, and V, all 2017) are each placed in a cardboard shipping carton on the ground. Like houses, the boxes have walls and floors, permeated by air and equipped with a lock that offers protection from the outside world. Strewn about the space, stray keys are embellished with found objects, such as a bone,

  • picks March 12, 2017

    Duncan Campbell

    Irish by birth but Scottish by choice, Duncan Campbell investigates reality with the help of popular contemporary strategies, using found footage, archival material, and original video. In 2014, he won the prestigious Turner Prize, when Dirk Snauwaert, curator of this show—Campbell’s first major solo presentation in Belgium—was a member of the jury. The current exhibition at Wiels, straightforward and well balanced, features three film pieces.

    It for Others, 2013—originally created for the Scottish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale—sits at the heart of the show. Inspired by the film Les statues

  • picks February 07, 2017

    Elisabetta Benassi

    “In the back of the car, the bronze shells of two tortoises emerge from a uniform layer of fresh earth.”

    A blue Ford station wagon, a typical 1970s model, appears clumsily parked in the courtyard near the gallery’s entrance. In the back of the car, the bronze shells of two tortoises emerge from a uniform layer of fresh earth. The objects that Elisabetta Benassi has chosen for her third solo show at this gallery are not what they seem. A life-size palm tree literally bursts through the dividing wall of one of the two gallery spaces, as if seeking to reveal its true essence. Made out of steel,

  • picks January 29, 2017

    Joan Jonas

    The dramatic feel of the 2015 Venice Biennale US pavilion, featuring work by Joan Jonas and titled “They Come to Us Without a Word,” is woven through the artist’s third solo exhibition at this gallery. Viewers find themselves placed within a theatrical dimension, where their surroundings are subjected to the performative aspect that has always characterized her output.

    In the first room is Minds of Their Own, 2016, an immersive video installation projected onto three separate screens. The performers in the video transform into diaphanous shadows. Here, Jonas seems to imagine a modern Platonic

  • picks January 09, 2017

    Eugenio Tibaldi

    Eugenio Tibaldi is an anomalous migrant. Born in Piedmont, he moved to the outskirts of Naples to acquaint himself with what he saw as the “most plastic and mobile” region of Italy. His work often favors so-called peripheral zones: places of stagnation that nonetheless afford greater freedom. In this show, which inhabits the entire upper area of the museum, viewers confront an original artistic and anthropological investigation of the Barriera di Milano neighborhood of Turin, where the museum is located. At the show’s entrance is a beaded curtain that bears the phrase “L’ideologia è la falsa

  • picks December 14, 2016

    Rome Quadriennale

    The sixteenth edition of the Rome Quadriennale responds to strong expectations with energy in kind. With eleven curators, ten exhibition projects, ninety-nine artists, and 150 works, the show features a title, “Altri tempi, altri miti” (Other Times, Other Myths; a phrase borrowed from the writer Pier Vittorio Tondelli), that laconically summarizes the state of art in Italy. The decision to involve many different sets of eyes is both appropriate to the fragmentary and unstable state of today’s art languages, and suggestive of curators’ current roles as crucial mediators. In the exhibition segments,

  • picks November 22, 2016

    Bedwyr Williams

    Bedwyr Williams’s installation The Gulch, 2016, transforms this institution’s Curve gallery with a path that unfolds in stages, recalling the experience of traversing a theme park. Each environment is a chapter in a narrative that disorients the viewer, annulling the previous segment and simultaneously presaging the next one. Every passage is a reversal of perspective, a transfiguration of the glance. The mise-en-scène of a full moon over the sea—with the noise of breaking waves, the nearly imperceptible sounds of gently rippling water, reassuring background music, the crackling of a bonfire,

  • picks November 04, 2016

    Adriana Varejão

    For “Azulejão” (Big Tile), Adriana Varejão has covered the gallery’s curved walls with enormous pieces inspired by traditional Portuguese tilework. Square tiles of enameled terra-cotta have served a dual function since the Middle Ages—they’re ornamental but also practical for cladding and waterproofing buildings. Here, Varejão, who is interested in the history and culture of Brazil, employs the highly recognizable material to represent her native land’s ties to Portugal, ties established through the vicissitudes of trade and colonialism. She allowed a layer of plaster on each of her large canvases

  • picks October 05, 2016

    Jana Schröder

    In her first solo show at this gallery, Jana Schröder proceeds nonchalantly through a strongly performative pictorial practice. Her large canvases appear like monuments of automatic writing—in this case, notes and doodles—of the type one might imagine psychoanalysts encouraging patients to make in order to gain access to repressed memories. Schröder’s activity is a tribute of sorts to the paintings of Albert Oehlen, the artist’s professor at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 2005 to 2009, who combined abstract and figurative elements in response to the neo-expressionist aesthetic that reigned

  • diary June 08, 2016

    Roman Holiday

    ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY. And likewise the local contemporary art scene is not the result of a mere few years of professional effort. The city’s art world is now more scintillating and festive than ever, and in late May a meritorious group of exhibitions forced us to run a marathon course just to keep up.

    Fast on the heels of strong openings in May of Alessandro Scarabello at The Gallery Apart, Rob Sherwood at Federica Schiavo, Camille Henrot at Fondazione Memmo, Brian Eno at Valentina Bonomo, and Tomaso De Luca at Monitor, more and more offerings left no respite for the art-going public.

  • picks May 30, 2016

    “Mundus Muliebris”

    MM (for mundus muliebris, or trousseau) is the acronym for a brand conceived for this occasion, an experiment curated by Nicoletta Lambertucci that relates the worlds of art and fashion. The spaces of Basement Roma have been transformed into a laboratory of sorts, where clothing, furnishings, and accessories absorb the uniqueness of art, playfully taking its place. Viewers are welcomed by a multicolored environment that itself becomes a site of creation as well as an unusual showroom. Two mirror-image rooms by Patrizio di Massimo face and refer to each other: One features a majolica floor and