Critics’ Picks

Giulio Paolini, Il mondo nuovo (The New World), 2019, paper, Plexiglas, gold frames, 10' 3 1/2" x 14'.

Giulio Paolini, Il mondo nuovo (The New World), 2019, paper, Plexiglas, gold frames, 10' 3 1/2" x 14'.


Giulio Paolini

Massimo De Carlo | Milan/Belgioioso
Piazza Belgioioso 2 Palazzo Belgioioso
June 15–September 19, 2020

To create the new body of work on view here, Giulio Paolini looked to Giandomenico Tiepolo’s 1791 fresco Il mondo nuovo (The New World), a painting of a crowd, viewed from behind, gathered around a mysterious attraction in a Venetian square. Although the attention-grabbing spectacle remains unknown to the viewer, the collective’s curiosity suggests something astonishing—the future?

With his exhibition “Il mondo nuovo,” Paolini, who is seventy-nine years old, meditates on the passing of time with his usual poetic existentialism. In the venue’s first room, the installation Il mondo di prima (The World Before), 2020—a group of seven framed photomontages arranged on an antique table, with an eighth sitting on an accompanying chair—shows Paolini as a child, often juxtaposed with environments derived from ancient landscape painting: concentrated images of two idealized pasts. Expositio, 2019–20, extends the artist’s investigation of time and memory into a metaphysical dimension. Four white plinths of different heights become a stage on which casts of classical sculptures, a swath of fabric evocatively printed with the night sky, rolls of paper, and a halogen lamp act out their roles as the main characters in Paolini’s practice. 

References to the history of art continue in the large wall piece Il mondo nuovo, 2020, an assemblage of baroque-looking gold frames centered around one that hosts a blank sheet of paper. Each of the twenty-three frames at the periphery of this constellation presents a fragment isolated from Tiepolo’s eponymous fresco—a gesture that, by freezing the work in an atemporal limbo, comments on the cyclical nature of time and art alike.