Critics’ Picks

View of “Giovanni Kronenberg,” 2016.

View of “Giovanni Kronenberg,” 2016.

Rome

Giovanni Kronenberg

z2o Sara Zanin Gallery
Via della Vetrina 21
September 15–November 8, 2016

Giovanni Kronenberg’s debut exhibition at this gallery opens with a large rock crystal in which a black baroque pearl is embedded. With a selection of new works, the artist delinates a path, lit by theatrical spotlights, through the gallery’s three rooms. The pieces are made with objects Kronenberg has collected over time, curios from his personal archive. Recognizing their polysemous qualities, he brings them into the present tense, prudently enriching or in some cases detaching them from their meanings.

In the second gallery, an untitled graphite drawing takes on a sculptural look. Created without a preparatory sketch, it offers threadlike strokes that contrast with the pasty quality of the pencil marks. An untitled piece of green malachite, shaped like a cabochon in order to remove its lapidary hardness, translates the graphic sign into sculpture, lending a more sensory tone to the installation. In the final room, the show encourages smelling, seeing, and hearing. In one corner, an eighteenth-century olive press, rendered useless by woodworm holes and fissures, contains a hidden tape recorder that broadcasts a confused conversation between two NASA astronauts. Kronenberg here sets in motion a scene that corrupts the nature of things—as in the four sea sponges taken from his home and exhibited like fossils that are also diffusers of artificial marine fragrances. A sheepskin squeezed inside a nineteenth-century bell jar and a moose horn that turns a silver thimble into a claw and allows it to balance continue the surreal play between form and meaning. Finally, the misunderstandings encouraged by imperceptible alterations in this show are clarified with a soot-smudged tooth of a sperm whale that barely betrays its paleontological aspect.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.