“Carta Bianca Capodimonte Imaginaire

Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte
via Miano 2
December 15–March 15

Giulio Paolini, Contemplator enim, 1992, mixed media, dimensions variable.

For this exhibition, ten intellectuals were invited to draw upon the immense patrimony of this institution, which boasts a small but precious collection of contemporary art, to create their own juxtapositions of old and new works. The utterly personal interpretations of the historic collection range from the naturalistic vision of architect and landscapist Paolo Pejrone—who has framed a window among various paintings to surprisingly reveal the museum’s park—to the evolutionist approach of Laura Bossi Régnier, a neurologist who reflects on the relationship between man and ape, presenting paintings and porcelain works inhabited by bizarre animals. In the room of collector Gianfranco D’Amato, Jacopo de’ Barbari’s mysterious Ritratto di Luca Pacioli (Portrait of Luca Pacioli), ca. 1500, is associated with Camera (Room), 1987, a geometric sculpture by Carlo Alfano, and the cruel and grotesque iconography of Artemisia Gentileschi’s Giuditta e Oloferne (Judith Slaying Holofernes), ca. 1612–13, faces off against the physiognomic investigation of Mimmo Jodice’s photographic diptych Transiti (Transits), 2008.

The standout curatorial interventions are by artists Giulio Paolini and Francesco Vezzoli, the latter of whom is not new to this type of experimentation. Despite being at opposite poles of contemporary artmaking, they share a constant consideration of art history. Artists cannot exempt themselves from presenting their vision of art, and so it is not surprising that Paolini has responded to the invitation by rejecting a selection and presenting his own Contemplator enim, 1992, an arcade of Plexiglas panels bearing painted valets in powdered wigs who seem to hold empty squares. Vezzoli—mindful of his phantasmagorical “Galleria Vezzoli” exhibition at MAXXI in 2013—brings visitors into a baroque corridor of sculptures shrouded in red velvet. By confronting pairs of busts and portraits from different eras, he re-creates an impossible play of glances unconstrained by time.

The polyphonic interpretation attempted here is a clearly fashionable curatorial approach that, in this case, confirms the allure of a long-standing art museum with one of the most abundant and fascinating collections in Italy.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

— Adriana Rispoli