new-york

Luigi Otani

Bortolami Gallery

At first glance, Italian artist Luigi Ontani’s recent solo exhibition seemed to fit neatly into the ongoing saga of his career, which has been defined by a flamboyant, if ironic, interweaving of art and life. Here were early photographic tableaux vivants peopled by medieval knights and Olympian gods (scantily clad and expressing a playfully androgynous sexuality), a set of large new lenticular prints in which a fully dressed Ontani wears or plays with masks, and a glittering spiral of ceramic sculptures of the artist’s own ornate Oriental slippers and snakeskin boots. The fancy footwear connected two other works, Electric Throne, 2006–2007, and a figure combining elements of various sculptures from the Galleria Borghese in Rome titled ErmaBorgheseEstetica, 2002–2007.

Yet beneath the familiarly seductive surface bubbled something new: Tempering the flashy self-referentiality of Ontani’s

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