Critics’ Picks

Patrizio Di Massimo, Epico Cavalleresco (after Joseph Paul Blanc), 2019, oil on linen, 90 1/2 × 70 7/8".

Patrizio Di Massimo, Epico Cavalleresco (after Joseph Paul Blanc), 2019, oil on linen, 90 1/2 × 70 7/8".


Patrizio Di Massimo

Via Oslavia, 17 Fonderia Artistica Battaglia
September 25–November 20, 2019

On the cover of a Rolling Stone issue from 1982, Steve Martin is captured in a giddy jump in front of a Franz Kline painting, camouflaged in a white tuxedo smeared with black paint. Viewers to this exhibition first encounter Self-portrait as abstract painter (After Annie Leibovitz) (all works 2019), for which Patrizio Di Massimo has re-created the shoot, only this time, Kline’s characteristic black brushwork is rendered in a Pepto-Bismol pink, a favorite hue of the painter’s, which he uses to thwart gender tropes. Conceived and made over the past five months, these nine baroque tableaux range from domestic squabbles to altered chivalric epics; an indissoluble combination of personal life and soured fantasy seems to be the through line.

In Diana (Six Months), the artist’s infant daughter gazes out widely from the picture plane, leading the viewer, in contrast, to linger on the rambunctious composition of bodies and scenic devices that surround her. Assuming the role of director, Di Massimo carefully casts his actors to carry out an investigation into the dynamics of coupledom. He turns to his friends, Alan Prada and Fabio Cherstich, who quarrel in a traditionally furnished bedroom, and to an unlikely Goshka Macuga, who, dressed in a sporty garment with hints of Bauhaus design, clashes with her companion, Nabil Bouhir. In Epico Cavalleresco (After Joseph Paul Blanc), the artist subverts the romantic painter Joseph Paul Blanc’s Angelica and Ruggiero, 1876, by replacing the virile Christian knight who saves the naked damsel in distress with a female youxia warrior. Di Massimo’s voyeuristic impulse culminates in Untitled (Green Triptych), a clever, shameless three-parter in which the artist portrays himself simultaneously as the observer and subject of masochistic sex acts, in turn delivering a vision of self-absorption, with desire remaining delectably poised between want and consummation.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.