Critics’ Picks

Flavio Favelli, Terrazzo con Decori (Terrace with Decorations), 2008, mixed media. Installation view.

Flavio Favelli, Terrazzo con Decori (Terrace with Decorations), 2008, mixed media. Installation view.

Rome

Marcel van Eeden and Flavio Favelli

Studio SALES di Norberto Ruggeri
Piazza Dante 2
May 21–September 30, 2008

Like Marcel Van Eeden’s individual drawings, the narratives that emerge from his cycles and series are crosshatched tonal studies, created not through linear contours sliced into space, but in layered waves of light and dark. In Tempo (Time), 2008, works from the artist’s much-acclaimed “a-drawing-a-day” series face a group of oil paintings. In the drawings, Van Eeden builds a fictional visual archive of the years before his birth, manufacturing memories of the time before he existed in compositions of randomly selected though thoughtfully cropped found images. In the paintings, similarly decontextualized images are appropriated in oil, a less immediate medium; mysterious odysseys are chronicled through gaps, fractures, and invented characters like the mercurial Oswald Sollman, whose identity shifts from archaeologist to painter in dramatic twists and turns. SHAMPOOING, GUN, and KNIFE are among the words embedded in Van Eeden’s images; ZEIT (German for “time”) is the only one repeated.

At the end of the exhibition hall, artist Flavio Favelli looks back with a cynical though desirous gaze at the stillborn Italian bourgeoisie, and its failure to become a progressive social, political, and cultural force, with Terrazzo con Decori (Terrace with Decorations), 2008. Recalling antifascist Piero Gobetti’s lament for the liberal revolution never achieved by Italy’s middle class, Favelli’s work subscribes to a Pasolinian deconstruction of ideology that aims to expose the bourgeoisie’s false sense of self. Through Favelli’s strategic mirroring and fracturing, time and space fold as the pavement seems to shift underfoot: The ground-level parquet is doubled by an elevated “terrace” of geometric tiles built by the artist, while two end tables (on either side of a Chinese-style vase) originate from one cut in half. The nostalgia staged by Van Eeden and Favelli is a critical look at how desire, even when ostensibly dampened by emotional distance, molds time, as a raw material, into memories. Such is the way we concoct the stories that create and re-create our own images.