Critics’ Picks

Davide Monaldi, Autoritratto (zerbino) (Self-portrait [doormat]), 2014, terracotta, 28 x 15".

Rome

Davide Monaldi

Studio SALES di Norberto Ruggeri
Piazza Dante 2
February 7–March 28, 2015

Davide Monaldi’s current exhibition is a poetic statement, whispered rather than vaunted, through a series of self-portraits. Each enameled ceramic figure depicts the face of the artist as a child; stylized into a full, flat shape. However, the atmosphere here is not that of a carefree age of innocence but rather one of solitude, a time marked by fears and anxieties: the child hidden in a corner, his head inside his sweater, from which only his terrified eyes poke out (Shy Boy, 2012); or the lonely birthday party of a sad little boy (Happy Birthday, 2010); or the family where every member has the same face—father, mother, children, and dog—in an extraordinary synthesis of genetic and psychic identification with parental patterns (Family, 2010). These are deliberately modest and antimonumental works, in which the material itself declares the delicacy with which the artist addresses his journey into memory.

Autoritratto (zerbino) (Self-portrait [doormat]), 2014, a terracotta replica of the kind of heavy cast-iron doormats used for cleaning mud off shoes, is Monaldi’s most painful statement regarding that inner space of childhood submission and conditioning. But the gloomy psychological implication of the title collides with the elegant arabesques of the fragile doormat, inserting a paradoxical incongruity and an element of self-mockery. In keeping with the spontaneous ability of children to shape clay, Monaldi favors the intimate component of his creative work, through a technique that becomes a healing process for reliving and making peace with disturbing memories from the past.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.