Vlatka Horvat

Renata Fabbri Arte Contemporanea
Via Stoppani 15 C
November 20–January 20

Vlatka Horvat, Fixed Holes, 2017, cardboard, felt, adhesive tape, 1 1/4 x 59 x 57".

For her first exhibition in Italy, Croatian artist Vlatka Horvat has installed eleven works across the gallery’s two floors. “Surroundings” pays homage to the horizon, as both a spatial boundary and a goal to which one can aspire, ideologically and physically. The show’s natural path opens with two wooden tables created in 2016, titled Set Right (Table Leg) and Set Right (Tabletop). Reduced to structural skeletons, they boast delicate additions of ribbonlike cardboard, attached with white adhesive tape, as if to conjure missing parts. At Some Length, 2017, is a straight line at eye level, more than twenty-five feet long, composed of knotted rubber bands and cotton threads. Despite its materials’ fragility, the piece evokes the severity of barbed wire. Fixed Holes, 2017, meanwhile, comprises six rings of cardboard overlapping three squares of colored felt with circular punch-outs, the negative space echoing the cardboard loops’ round forms. The ambiguous composition suggests a rudimentary demarcation of territory while also conjuring some sort of lagoon.

Landscapes become concrete in the five photographs in the series “Tree Line,” 2017. Each image depicts the same fir trees reflected in a lake, but the artist’s collage interventions create disturbing filters over the pristine scenes. Elsewhere, Fractions, 2017, presents wooden doorstops arranged in a starburst pattern. And in “End in Sight,” 2017, a series of seven black-and-white photographic collages melding portraiture and landscape, the human figure is always partially truncated, even while the horizon line appears preserved across the fragmented images.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Maria Chiara Valacchi

“È solo un inizio. 1968”

Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
Viale delle Belle Arti 131
October 3–January 14

View of “è solo un inizio. 1968” (It’s Just a Beginning. 1968), 2017.

Nestled within a synchronistic and refreshing reinstallation of the permanent collection of Rome’s Galleria Nazionale (spearheaded by the museum’s director Cristiana Collu), the current exhibition “È solo un inizio. 1968” (It’s Just a Beginning. 1968) would even be worth visiting for no reason other than its surroundings. However, the real strength of curator Ester Coen’s meditation on a moment of broad social and artistic upheaval is the degree to which it allows physical realities to function as metaphors for political ones. Thus, as the double entendre of Mario Merz’s 1968 Sit-In reminds us, to occupy is both a political and a spatial act. Many of the works gesture toward this notion—from Alighiero Boetti’s well-known early map pieces to Luciano Fabro’s Three Ways of Arranging the Sheets, 1968, and Giovanni Anselmo’s Direzione, 1967–68, an abstract sculpture that points north. That the work of the female artists in the exhibition—Marisa Merz, Eva Hesse, Joan Jonas, Yayoi Kusama, Diane Arbus, and Carla Cerati—appears in auxiliary spaces adjacent to the central hall underscores the inescapable imbrication of place and power.

Questions of industry, containment, and reflection are also in play throughout the exhibition, and similarities resonate between seemingly disparate works, such that Diane Arbus’s New Yorkers could be mistaken for Italians if they weren’t already so iconic. The show’s sensitive installation re-creates the environmental aesthetic of the late 1960s, with its characteristic syncopated scatterings. Sparse didactic texts add to the formalist bent of an exhibition putatively about politics, while also facilitating a seamless integration between artists representing diverse movements within Italy (Arte Povera and Scuola di Piazza del Popolo, primarily) and elsewhere.

Leslie Cozzi

Delia Gonzalez

Via Chiaia 229
November 17–January 12

Delia Gonzalez, Jupiter, 2017, graphite, acrylic paint, and gold leaf on paper, 29 1/2 x 29 1/2".

In her second solo show in this Neapolitan space, Delia Gonzalez firmly maintains the infrastructure of her artistic dynamic: the electronic music, the dance floor, the boundary between the personal and the universal, and a language that deliberately eludes categorization as it sows seeds of disquietude.

A postapocalyptic atmosphere pervades the gallery. The suffused pink, acidic light generated by the neon The Last Days of Pompeii (all works cited, 2017) and the hypnotic original sound track by Gonzalez, Vesuvius, converge to create a club-like setting bordering on ironic. In certain ways, this is a political show—by referencing the famously submerged city, the artist draws a comparison to the social situation of her native country, the United States, after the election of Donald Trump, an event which pushed Gonzalez to once again leave the US. Her two totem-like sculptures, The Osiris Gate I and II, create a reflection in relief of two of the gallery’s doorways. This intervention makes it seem as if the exhibition was impacted by a telluric movement, opening up a gap to a new dimension.

In the second room, the atmosphere is quieter, with six mesmerizing and magnetic drawings, including Jupiter and Don’t Exclude the Moon, referencing classical proportions, materials, and details through the use of gold leaf and trompe l’oeil marble surfaces. The circular forms of these works are also an homage to the moon, which is reinforced by author Matilde Cerruti Quara’s poetic closing to the text she wrote for the show: “A full moon . . . the power of the eternal, and of the ethereal.”

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Adriana Rispoli

Alan Charlton

Noire Gallery
via Piossasco 29
October 18–January 10

Alan Charlton, 20 Vertical Parts, 1990/2017, 88 1/2 x 14 1/4" each.

This new, multifaceted exhibition of Alan Charlton’s work speaks to the continued vitality and richness of his production. In the late 1960s, the English artist was already pioneering a language of radical abstraction. Since that time, he has adopted gray as the distinctive and sole color in his practice––a color which embraces neutrality in opposition to representation and expression, but whose eminent urban overtones also explicitly connect his paintings to industrial culture.

The large curved wall at the gallery’s entrance offered an opportunity for the artist to stage a new installation of his monumental 1990 work, 20 vertical parts, originally conceived as a “corner painting.” Made up of twenty identical elements, the piece puts forth a dialectic of plurality and unity following a pared-down methodology: Every component has been meticulously painted to achieve the most uniform effect possible. Furthering Charlton’s rejection of gestural expressivity and subjectivity, both the dimensions of the works’ individual elements and their distance from one another are based—as is always the case in his pieces—on a 4.5-centimeter unit: the standard thickness of a stretcher frame in the United Kingdom. These same dimensions guide the other works on view, all created for the show. In the second room, the diptychs in “Light and Dark,” 2017, each have two elements of the same size, one light and one dark, seemingly contradicting and modulating serialism. The show’s final section features Isometric Triangle, 2017, paintings on unstretched canvas, hanging freely on the wall and deliberately arranged nonsequentially.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Francesca Pola

Anita Leisz

Norma Mangione Gallery
Via Matteo Pescatore 17
November 5–December 23

Anita Leisz, Untitled, 2017, aluminum, 48 1/2 x 40 1/4 x 1 3/4".

Anita Leisz’s work by turns evokes a visual unity and highlights the nature of its construction from disparate elements. One piece, composed of two galvanized-iron cylinders (all works Untitled and 2017), is the only on view that clearly brings to mind a three-dimensional structure. The other six works are simultaneously paintings and sculptures. Hung from the walls, they possess a mutable-seeming depth that complicates their status as paintings, even though their presentation encourages categorization as such. One wood, gypsum, and fiberboard piece, for example, is five inches thick. Another ambiguity emerges from the nature of the abstraction to which the artist resorts. Her language refers to the realm of minimalism: essentialism, formal reduction, geometry. She uses materials such as gypsum fiberboard that overtly evoke construction, as well as iron, tin, and wax. The vertical line down the center of one piece is formed by rebar of sorts, grafted onto the fiberboard panel. With their industrial aesthetic, Leisz’s works can seem like building fragments that have lost their structural function, becoming pure abstract forms. Their cryptic ambivalence resides in an oscillation between stark abstraction and a suggestion of lived-in spaces. On close examination, it becomes clear that the surfaces have been marked and worked over, as if time has incised histories into them. The apparent coldness of Leisz’s work is a deception and an enigma.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Alessandra Pioselli