Pier Paolo Pancotto

  • João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva, Onça Geométrica (Geometric Ounce), 2013, five projectors, 16-mm films (color, silent, various durations). Installation view.

    João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva

    The works in “Onça Geométrica” (Geometric Ounce), the recent exhibition by João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva, take their inspiration from daily life, literature, philosophy, and the artists’ own fertile imaginations. In this, they are much like the duo’s earlier films, photographs, and sculptures, such as those included in the 2009 Venice Biennale, where the pair represented Portugal, and the most recent one, curated by Massimiliano Gioni. The artists’ eclectic repertoire of sources ranges from Sextus Propertius and Plautus through Victor Hugo and Alfred Jarry to Jorge Luis Borges and René

  • Michael van Ofen, Content Loss by Communication in: Illustrative Diagram of Nicolaus Hoff after Johann Friedrich Overbeck, “Germania und Italia,” 1828, 2013, oil on canvas, 18 1/2 x 21 3/4".
    picks December 21, 2013

    Michael van Ofen

    Michael van Ofen’s works at the Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia all evince a central interest: the historical and cultural common ground uniting Italy and Germany. The artist’s first solo show in Italy brings together fifteen pieces through which van Ofen delves into one aspect in particular of that overlap—namely, the two countries’ shared experiences as they each strove to create a unified state during the nineteenth century. Van Ofen has subjected a selection of paintings from that period to visual reinterpretation, revealing in the process their fundamental ethical and social content.

  • View of the “The Time Machine (The Survivors),” 2013.
    picks December 20, 2013

    “The Time Machine (The Survivors)”

    Imagining the future by thinking of the past is the common denominator uniting the thirteen artists in “The Time Machine (The Survivors),” curated by Rome-based CURA, a magazine, publishing house, and exhibition space. Their interpretations of the future have the feeling of archeological recycling, which is achieved by drawing upon an iconographic and iconological repertoire that is broadly historicized and then translated through the most advanced technological systems. As a title, “Time Machine” acts as a framing device, symbolically representing the means needed to create the selected works.

  • Piero Golia, Finalmente Venezia (Grand Uniforme), 2013, acrylic paint on silk, 59 x 59".

    Piero Golia

    In the Italian Pavilion at this year’s Fifty-Fifth Venice Biennale, Piero Golia showed Untitled (My Gold Is Yours), 2013, a cube composed of cement with a vein of gold running through it. The public was invited to “mine” the precious metal by scratching into the cement, thereby modifying the sculpture until it nearly disappeared. Wanting to capture and in some way immortalize the fleeting moment of pleasurable surprise in being invited to exhibit in the Biennale, Golia devised the project presented in his recent exhibition “Finalmente Venezia” (Finally Venice)—a phrase that seems halfway

  • Patrick Faigenbaum, Famille del Drago, Rome, 1987, gelatin silver print, 29 x 26 1/4".
    picks November 13, 2013

    Patrick Faigenbaum

    At the heart of Patrick Faigenbaum’s oeuvre are works that skillfully reveal the background and character of his subjects, whether ancient classical busts shot in Roman museums or the aristocratic Italian families he photographed in their homes during the 1980s. Now, Faigenbaum returns to Rome with a vast anthological show at the French Academy, where he had a fellowship from 1985 through 1987. Curated by Jean-François Chevrier and Jeff Wall, the exhibition retraces his entire creative path.

    Together, his images constitute a thorough, enlightening documentation of specific social and political

  • View of “Urs Fischer,” 2013. Background: Horse/Bed, 2013.
    picks October 02, 2013

    Urs Fischer

    Urs Fischer’s debut solo show in Rome has a back-to-basics feeling, which makes sense, as it comes on the heels of his midcareer retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The present exhibition consists one monumental metal sculpture—Horse/Bed, 2013—and three works from his ongoing series “Problem Paintings.” which he began in 2010. The latter are silk-screened, each featuring a human face that is obstructed by the image of an egg. The works are affixed to aluminum panels that hang on the walls of the gallery’s first and second floors. The former, began with 3D scans of

  • View of “How Far Away Is Mars,” 2013.
    picks August 01, 2013

    “How Far Away Is Mars”

    Despite the otherworldly title of this show, there are no unearthly fantasies here. The six featured artists share a concern for everyday life, expressed through ordinary objects and materials juxtaposed in unusual ways so that they take on meanings that are different from those traditionally ascribed to them. For instance, David Douard’s two assemblages here, together titled 5ICK S4LIVA, 2013, are made with plaster, resin, ink, wood, metal, faux flowers, and audiovisual systems. They are similar to microecosystems in which each element performs a vital function. Yet behind their appearance as

  • View of “The Foreigners Stand Still,” 2013.
    picks July 03, 2013

    Seb Patane

    Seb Patane collects fragments of quotidian events scattered in individual and collective memory, recomposing them into pictorial, three-dimensional, acoustic, installation, and performance works. The result is quite heterogeneous in both semantic and formal terms but coheres around the artist’s presence and thus has a strongly autobiographical character. In this exhibition, the artist’s first at an Italian institution, Patane (who was born in Catania in 1970 and lives and works in London) presents ten works—photographs along with video and sound pieces—that focus on history and its documentary

  • Thomas Houseago, Striding Figure (Rome I), 2013, Tuf-Cal, hemp, iron rebar, 11' 9“ x 5' 7” x 7' 9".
    picks June 25, 2013

    Thomas Houseago

    History reverberates as an echo in Thomas Houseago’s work. References to Auguste Rodin and Alberto Giacometti (both artists’ Walking Man sculptures come to mind), Aristide Maillol, Jacob Epstein (particularly his Rock Drill, 1913), Pablo Picasso, Cubism, Futurism, and primitive art—as well as histories of music and cinema—nourish his visual repertory, just as ancient art acts as a leitmotif in his oeuvre. Supported by these types of sources, he develops three-dimensional groups of works that call into question the traditional parameters of sculpture (volume, relief, monumentality, the relationship

  • Manfredi Beninati, IX, 2012–13, oil on canvas, 63 x 78 3/4".

    Manfredi Beninati

    The summer of 2003 was exceedingly hot in Rome, the air heavy, motionless, as if it were hostage to the sun and its scorching rays. This was a fitting context for the debut of a young artist hailing from the heat of Palermo, in southern Italy: Manfredi Beninati, who had recently moved to the Italian capital. Thinking back to that scalding and indolent summer, one can still easily recall Beninati’s early paintings and their reception: From the start, his work was endowed with a special quality determined by its ability to suspend traditional concepts of time and space. The artist still plays

  • Ulla von Brandenburg, Eigenschatten I-VI (Self-Shadow I-VI), 2013, mixed media, dimensions variable.
    picks March 05, 2013

    Ulla von Brandenburg

    Ulla von Brandenburg’s work typically creates a strong sense of disorientation, which is precisely the feeling that prevails in her monumental installation, Eigenschatten I-VI (Self Shadow I-VI), 2013, the hallmark of her debut solo exhibition in Italy. Suspended from the ceiling are objets trouvés, which the artist has culled from flea markets around Rome. This dangling collection creates a metaphysical atmosphere that amplifies the bewildering affects so signature to Brandenburg’s practice. Also part of this installation is a series of canvases that face the objects; through an innovative

  • Jules de Balincourt, Waiting Tree, 2012, oil and acrylic on panel, 78 x 87".

    Jules de Balincourt

    “Parallel Universe,” Jules de Balincourt’s first solo show at an Italian institution, includes five paintings from 2012, each different in subject and content. That all were painted around the same time helps make it clear that this body of work may be wide-ranging thematically but is consistent in terms of its pictorial syntax. The canvases exhibited in Reggio Emilia echo one another, as if in reciprocal expectation that the painting process will lead to results that, however different, are complementary. Moreover, it seems that the artist has been working to distance himself from daily events