Galleria De Crescenzo & Viesti

The work of the young Roman artist Lucavalerio, which contains both narrative and sociological elements, typically has an intimate quality, despite the fact that it often consists of large installations: Mareggiata (Sea storm, 1993), for example, involved the entire historic center of a small town on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Lucavalerio’s recent show, entitled “Sette mari” (Seven seas), comprised seven pieces—two large installations and five sculptures. These ironic, often tautological works point to the romantic function of the work of art either as a conveyer of meaning or as an enigma with infinite solutions. In Like a rebirth (all works 1997), for example, Lucavalerio projected the silhouette of a child huddled in a fetal position onto a sheet and pillow immersed in a bathtub filled with water. A black goldfish splashed about in the tub, creating a heightened sense of claustrophobia and frustration, almost as though a birth were endlessly taking place. In Memories in some faraway beach—a scaled glass jar containing a broken glass resting on a layer of pebbles—the melancholy evocation of the irrecoverable past that was conveyed by the broken glass, juxtaposed with the purity of the complete glass enclosing this “memory,” suggested the distance between the tangible and intangible.

No contents (are you talking about art?) consisted of a glass jar trapped inside a transparent object in the form of a prism, at the foot of which lay a hammer. This piece posed a somewhat cynical contrast between an overt invitation to break the container—which, in fact, contained nothing—and the probable response of a public conditioned to refrain from touching exhibited artworks, especially when they are placed on a base alongside a label, as were the works here.

Consisting of another sealed glass container, but one filled with resin, Mother contains a billiard ball and a photograph of the artist’s mother as a young girl. In Waiting for you, a solitary fish hook floats inside a resin-filled bottle—a perfectly preserved image of cruelty and death. Fish hooks also appear in Self-fish, this time surrounding a photograph of the artist. And in the show’s final piece, Back home, a bourgeois domestic environment complete with an armchair and an oriental carpet was disrupted by a flood of wires and hooks hanging from the ceiling. A familiar situation was thus doubly subverted—both by its placement in the gallery context and by the unnerving presence of the suspended hooks.

Mario Codognato

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.