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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