Critics’ Picks

View of “Francesco Simeti,” 2016.

View of “Francesco Simeti,” 2016.

Milan

Francesco Simeti

Francesca Minini
Via Massimiano 25
May 11–July 29, 2016

For this solo show, Francesco Simeti has stepped away from his usual wallpaper-like creations of kaleidoscopic bucolic fantasies to deliver an installation that focuses almost exclusively on ceramic and bronze sculptures. “Armed, Barbed and Halberd-Shaped,” curated by Nicola Ricciardi, reflects on nature’s impetuous states, ignoring flowery and sedate idylls in favor of wild meadows inspired by the emotional landscapes painted by Charles Burchfield in the early twentieth century. The exhibition begins in the gallery’s main room with three ceramic works, on Leoncillo-inspired plinths, that resemble gushes of water or small bushes and include bronze leaf and reed elements. Their surfaces’ opalescence and multiple chromatic gradations are the result of a particular firing method: Using an anagama kiln, Simeti exposes the clay to storms of ash, chemically altering their coloration. In Simeti’s hands, nature “arms itself,” and seven bronze halberds—six lined up on the wall, one erect on a tripod in the center of the space—stand out. They terminate not in sharp blades, but rather in sinewy fronds of wild grass.

The room concludes with a comma shape in pearly-gray majolica that resembles a giant stalk of Colorado river reed, blown by the wind. In an adjacent room, the artist returns to the work for which he is known. Two canvases rest against wallpaper that features a repeated pattern of botanical drawings—nettle, sage, and jimson weed—and a destroyed landscape. Balancing this scene is a low installation of ceramic pieces representing snow-white clouds, some suspended and others on the floor.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.