Critics’ Picks

Bryony Roberts, Primo Piano, 2016, adhesive vinyl on existing stone floor, dimensions variable.

Bryony Roberts, Primo Piano, 2016, adhesive vinyl on existing stone floor, dimensions variable.


Cinque Mostre” (Five Shows)

American Academy in Rome
Via Angelo Masina 5
February 9–April 3, 2016

For the final exhibition of Rome Prize winners and invited artists, curator Ilaria Gianni, with the assistance of Saverio Verini, conceived and curated a group using the idea of memory and the past as resource and inspiration. The implicit protagonist is Rome, with its thousands of contradictions that continually emerge and recede, like groundwater from an aquifer.

In the atrium, Bryony Roberts has temporarily modified the configuration of the floor’s patterning with Primo Piano (First Floor), 2016, using adhesive vinyl to evoke the Cosmatesque decorative stonework floors of Roman basilicas. The gallery, meanwhile, has been transformed into a place of linguistic and stylistic experimentation. The pictorial subjects in Maaike Schoorel’s Flying, 2016, and Candelabro (Candelabrum), 2016, seem like apparitions; the small projections on gold ground by Mark Boulos (Mary Magdalene I, II, and III, all 2016) resemble contemporary frescoes; David Schutter's drawings, entitled “SPOLIA” (Spoils), 2016, propose a vocabulary of signs both abstract and representational (in hinting at parts of bodies, clothes, and faces), inspired by drawings of seventeenth-century artist-voyagers

The cryptoporticus features various interpretations of the fragment, whether it takes the form of a reliquary (Reliquary by Javier Galindo, 2016) or pasta molds inspired by the architecture of Francesco Borromini (Karl Daubmann’s Bitten by Borromini, 2016).

On the main staircase, Christopher Cerrone’s recording of the fountain on the first floor, Aureate, 2015, unifies the space, acting as a sound track for the exhibition. The show concludes in the bar, a place for meeting and exchange par excellence, with The Picture Club, 2016—curated by Gianni and Verini together with the artist Gianni Politi—for which site-specific works by some thirty artists variously augment or replace the gallery’s preexisting collection of portraits. While the show features an enormous variety of commingling voices, each preserves its own unmistakable timbre.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.