New York

Giancarlo Neri “Nove Lune”

Giancarlo Neri, an Italian artist who has lived in New York for the last nine years, created an outdoor installation of a group of nine recent paintings inspired by meditations on the subject of the moon. The installation invited a fascinating array of thoughts and speculations concerning the role of the artist’s studio in the creative process. Neri’s studio, a back room of a small, walk-up apartment, located on one of the densely packed streets of Greenwich Village, turned out to be an active and integral element in his work, from conception through execution, and, finally, to installation. Its starting point, according to the artist, was the prominent back window which leads onto the fire escape and offers a full view of the roof of the building opposite Neri’s own. The stage-like picture this view afforded was striking enough to spark in Neri a desire to do something with it. Neri wanted to see how his paintings, the work he was making in the studio, would appear when displayed on that distant roof, as well as hung from different sections of the facades of other buildings in the neighborhood that were visible through the studio window.

In this installation, entitled “Nove Lune” (Nine moons), Neri used signlike images to bring to mind the different phases of the moon. The images were employed on wooden frame structures made both from found objects, such as chairs and a table top, and from objects fabricated by hand. Intended to be seen at night under the illumination of spotlights, they had a startling vitality. Placed as they were at a variety of heights on top of and against the surrounding buildings that extended in a two-block radius, the paintings—ranging in size from about 15 to 80 inches—caused one to become acutely aware of distance, direction, and of one’s own sense of space.

The only access to this installation was through the window of Neri’s studio. One could stand inside the studio and look through the window or climb onto the fire escape and view the installation from there. Whether inside or outside, the viewer was made deeply aware of the transformational nature of the studio, as a place where ideas are born. By bringing in the urban scene as it does, the studio has helped to present Neri with new inventive possibilities.

Ronny Cohen