Critics’ Picks

View of “Cyphoria,” Rome Quadriennale, 2016.


Rome Quadriennale

Palazzo Delle Esposizioni
Via Nazionale 194
October 13–January 8

The sixteenth edition of the Rome Quadriennale responds to strong expectations with energy in kind. With eleven curators, ten exhibition projects, ninety-nine artists, and 150 works, the show features a title, “Altri tempi, altri miti” (Other Times, Other Myths; a phrase borrowed from the writer Pier Vittorio Tondelli), that laconically summarizes the state of art in Italy. The decision to involve many different sets of eyes is both appropriate to the fragmentary and unstable state of today’s art languages, and suggestive of curators’ current roles as crucial mediators. In the exhibition segments, the works are autonomous in their specificity but also seem to connect to multiple larger avenues of research and interpretation.

Comprising the only team among the curators, Simone Ciglia and Luigia Lonardelli—in their section titled “I would prefer not to”—present artists who have made subtraction and reduction a stylistic cipher: Matteo Fato reduces painting to figures isolated against monochromatic fields, in both pictorial and installation-oriented work; Nicola Samorì strips away layers in her brooding portraits, allowing underlying traces to emerge. Curator Matteo Lucchetti, in his section “De rerum rurale,” recounts the countryside’s settlement as a metaphor for contemporary social dynamics: Michelangelo Consani takes a scene from Giuseppe De Santis’s film Riso amaro (Bitter Rice, 1950) and projects it onto a bust of Masanobu Fukuoka, a pioneer of natural farming. In the section “La seconda volta” (The Second Time), curator Cristiana Perrella uses the concept of recycling as the framework for a new and compelling circular economy, through the works of Francesco Vezzoli, who seizes and reworks classical sculpture, and Alek O., who transforms the blue back of street posters into a new harmonic composition. Finally, curator Luigi Fassi, in his section “La democrazia in America” (Democracy in America), retraces the steps toward Italian democracy, presenting, between the others, the brothers Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio, who use images and sound to recount the dismantling of the Platz in Turin, one of the largest shantytowns in Europe—perhaps capturing that which has been fated for other times and other myths.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.