Critics’ Picks

View of “Paola Angelini,” 2014.

View of “Paola Angelini,” 2014.

Venice

Paola Angelini

Galleria Massimo De Luca
Via Pascoli 9C
September 26–November 7, 2014

The work in Paola Angelini’s current solo show seems to signify a profound shift in perspective, perhaps relating to the three-month period she spent as artist in residence earlier this year at the Nordic Artists’ Center in Dale, a picturesque rural town in Norway. While in her new paintings, Angelini clearly demonstrates a propensity for figuration, she has long been influenced by notions of landscape articulated throughout art history. There are, for instance, obvious references to Alberto Savinio in paintings such as Still Life with Landscape (all works 2014), which, like Savinio’s La battaglia dei Centauri (The Centaur’s Battle), 1930, depicts the mythical creature as its subject.

Initially, her artistic practice, anchored in classical form and content, eschewed overt references to nature, and even her immersion in Dale’s striking natural surroundings seemed to initially impel her to take refuge in academic certainties, only later on freeing her to portray nature “in the flesh”—whereupon her practice became truly, strongly figurative. Fir trees are the subjects of certain paintings—such as Landskapet (Landscape), or Study of Forest, in which Angelini’s brushstrokes aspire to an authentic mimesis of reality. The exhibition concludes with the sculpture Apporto (Contribution), which evokes the traditions of Grotesque art that are so well represented in Italy. (In fact, the piece is inspired by the sculptures that appear each June in the Gigli festival, which takes place in a town near Naples and commemorates Saint Paulinus.) For Angelini, the three-dimensional piece becomes an occasion to reflect on both medium and representation, allowing her to break away from the strict constraints of painting, even as she ends up investigating it from another vantage point.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.