Critics’ Picks

View of “Nicholas Matranga: I only drive automatic,” 2012.

Rome

Nicholas Matranga

Frutta
Via dei Salumi, 53
November 20 - December 22

Nicholas Matranga’s first solo show in Italy features ten new works that are both eclectic and representative of his development as an artist. Formally speaking, they can be divided into three groups: social, pictorial, and three-dimensional. The first category consists of four colored Plexiglas surfaces with silhouettes of various foods that, while decidedly exotic and geographically specific, can now be found everywhere thanks to globalization and are being corrupted to the point of losing their identities as they take on newer, hybrid ones. The second category is made up of three geometric paintings whose flat application of paint and traces of underlying drawing render the canvases facsimiles of youthful, deliberately academic exercises. The third grouping consists of three small sculptures composed from the accumulation of various materials––wood, polyester, and stones––that reside halfway between readymades and Kurt Schwitters–esque Merzbilds. They are thematically self-referential, devoid of any external iconographic reference whatsoever.

All the works, while extremely diverse in technique, share an element that is difficult to grasp at first glance but that emerges with sequential analysis. The connecting thread that unites them is the effort that goes into their making, the labored practice. Each of these works attests in its own way to Matranga’s efforts to confront reality and to speak to everyday life or creativity. Thus the research of this California-born, Berlin-based artist focuses less on ideas than on their realization: He translates theory into practice and concepts into concrete forms.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.