Luigi Ontani, GaneshDafne gaio, Giove et Ganimede, Gallo eAlloro, col gorilla goloso dell’uovo d’oro, 2003; NapoleonCentaurOntano, 2003; and Mille GandhArti Auroborambivolante, 2003. Installation view, S.M.A.K., Ghent, 2003.

Luigi Ontani

Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (SMAK)

“Genthara,” a vast retrospective of Luigi Ontani’s work comprising hundreds of photographs, paintings, drawings, sculptures, and videos, was pointedly flanked on the one hand by a selection of Italian art from the smak’s collection, focusing on a superb group of pieces from the era of arte povera, and on the other by a group show of young Italian artists punningly titled “Forse Italia” (“Maybe Italy,” but playing on the name of Silvio Berlusconi’s political party, Forza Italia, i.e., “Go Italy”). The implication being, of course, that the protean Ontani is a bridge between the generations. This is correct as far as it goes—for instance, he joins the mythopoeic gravitas of the older artists with the playfulness and sometime self-referentiality of the rising generation. Yet the ferment stirred by Italian artists in the ’60s—in distinction from immediate precursors like Fontana, Burri, and

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