Critics’ Picks

  • Giosetta Fioroni, Paesaggio Picasso (Picasso Landscape), 1965, pencil, white enamels and aluminum on canvas 45 x 45".

    Giosetta Fioroni

    Museo del Novecento
    Palazzo dell'Arengario Via Marconi, 1
    April 6 - August 26

    Giosetta Fioroni studies the ebb and flow of eras, a practice on full display in this retrospective. The exhibition begins with works that express the artistic climate in which she grew up, shaped by Giuseppe Capogrossi, Tano Festa, and Mario Schifano—fellow Roman artists with Pop sensibilities associated with the School of Piazza del Popolo. The curators have skillfully juxtaposed these artists’ works with Fioroni’s. All’Alba (At Dawn), 1957, reveals an interest in material and expressionist abstraction; Lampadina (Light Bulb), 1960, shows how she grew progressively closer to figuration, which bursts forth in a series of pieces characterized by silver vibrations—definitive works created in pencil and enamel on canvas. These works, which function like slides of feelings, include Particolare della nascita di venere (Detail of the Birth of Venus), 1965, and Paesaggio Picasso (Picasso Landscape), 1967, and attest to Fioroni’s lucid understanding of the power of commercial images and how mass media exploit art.

    Many works, dazzled and dazzling, resemble what we might see reflected behind our eyelids just after our eyes are subjected to a powerful light source. Over the course of the 1970s, Fioroni spent time in Venice, and she depicts a lagoon of light in works such as San Marco, 1970. But in the 1980s and 1990s, her work was characterized by an exposition of material, color, and a marked abstract, gestural component that often included rudimentary symbols such as arrows and houses. Indeed, the spirit of this show is encapsulated in Giosetta con Giosetta a nove anni (Giosetta and Giosetta at Age Nine), 2002, a synthetic-resin sculpture that depicts the artist as both an adult and a child. They are holding hands.

    Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

  • Installation view of Tom Friedman’s “Ghosts and UFOs: Projections for Well-Lit Spaces,” 2018.

    Tom Friedman

    Vistamarestudio
    Viale Vittorio Veneto 30
    March 24 - May 26

    Usually, the minimum condition for projecting a video is that the room is dark or at least in semidarkness. Not in Tom Friedman’s case. The videos in this exhibition—the American artist’s first works in the medium and their inaugural showing in Italy—are conceived to be displayed in fully illuminated spaces. The projected images are mostly simple outlines of light in motion, white on white walls: an ovoid that slowly rotates on an axis (One Minute Egg, 2017); the silhouette of a man—the artist—walking (Guardian, 2017); a simulated blazing sun (Sun, 2017). Friedman contrived the unusual approach after he witnessed squares of sunshine refracted by a window onto a wall in his home. One of the most alluring works in the show, Shaky Window, 2017, reproduces precisely this phenomenon, to unsettling effect. Observing what appears to be slanted daylight, one’s first impulse is to look around in search of a window that isn’t there.

    Friedman’s incursion into video is interesting for more than one reason. First of all, he proposes an evocatively “regressive” use of the projector, transformed into a mere source of white light. (Only a couple works, such as Candle, 2016, resort to color and chiaroscuro.) Secondly, he removes the projected image from the usual black box and places it in a white cube, rendering the latter integral to the work. Wall, 2017, for example, is the projection of a hand, palm open, which seems to emerge from the wall’s surface. Finally, with these white-on-white projections, evanescent as mirages—the show’s title is “Ghosts and UFOs: Projections for Well-Lit Spaces”—Friedman seems to have found an approach to video that is completely consistent with his poetics: a meticulous exploration of the fantasies and hallucinatory potential hidden in the interiors of everyday life.

    Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

  • Alighiero Boetti, Zoo, 1979, mixed media, dimensions variable.

    Alighiero Boetti

    Dep Art Gallery
    Via Comelico, 40
    February 28 - May 26

    This show presents a rarely seen side of Alighiero Boetti. In an untitled series of works on paper from 1982 to 1990, all of varied dimensions, the artist applies his Conceptual sensibility to nature and the animal kingdom—a central yet under-examined theme of his output since the late 1970s. Monkeys, panthers, dolphins, frogs, ibexes, tortoises, and other creatures populate an imaginary world in which they become infinitely combinable, not unlike the numerical and linguistic progressions the artist is best known for.

    In 1967, Boetti emerged as one of the principal exponents of Arte Povera, the Italian art movement that utilized organic materials and everyday objects. His cerebral approach explored the systems of classification that undergird both daily life and representations of reality. The cornerstone of this exhibition is the large installation Zoo, 1979, which the artist created with his children, Agata and Matteo, over a number of months. The only other appearance of this work is in photographic documentation taken by Giorgio Colombo in Boetti’s studio in Rome after the piece was completed. Made up of scores of small plastic animals, organized by genre, Zoo’s arrangement brings to mind the geographic areas with which the creatures are identified, becoming a sort of zoological counterpoint to Boetti’s celebrated series “Mappa” (Maps), 1971–94, in which various countries on a map were painted or embroidered with their national flags to delineate borders. This show confirms that Boetti is an artist whose richness has yet to be fully discovered.

    Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.