Critics’ Picks

View of “Carie” (Cavities), 2020.

View of “Carie” (Cavities), 2020.

Rome

Stefano Canto

Matèria
Via dei Latini 27
February 13–April 10, 2021

Since 2009, Stefano Canto has been embarking on urban excursions in search of abandoned tree trunks drained of life, slowly consumed by fungal parasites, the outer casing often left intact. Once transported to his studio, the artist fills the husks with reinforced concrete, which quickly solidifies to generate a perfect impression of its cavities, or carie, the word that titles this precise, poetic exhibition curated by Giuliana Benassi. Sometimes, using a process similar to the indirect lost wax technique, Canto sections the bark into blocks that he uses to replicate the cast numerous times, producing fossil-like copies that are imperceptibly different from one another, as in Ca 21 and Ca 24, both 2020–21. In this way, he seems to trace a sentimental mapping of the urban fabric, embalming these carcasses in a bid for eternity. Organic and inorganic, a binomial favored by the arte povera imagination, they announce a new postulate, abandoning an interest in process for a therapeutic hope: the filling of the advancing void. The stumps arrayed throughout the spacious, newly renovated gallery form nothing more than a “forest of symbols,” to quote Baudelaire, “a temple where living pillars let escape sometimes confused words”—like fragments of ancient columns discovered scattered in the vicinity of the temple of our memory.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.