View of “Luca Francesconi,” 2013. From left: Untitled (Shirt), 2013; Untitled (Fish), 2013.

View of “Luca Francesconi,” 2013. From left: Untitled (Shirt), 2013; Untitled (Fish), 2013.

Luca Francesconi

Fluxia Gallery

View of “Luca Francesconi,” 2013. From left: Untitled (Shirt), 2013; Untitled (Fish), 2013.

Visitors to Luca Francesconi’s recent solo show “Geode Cupa” were welcomed by Untitled (Eel) (all works 2013), a metal fishhook hung from a linen thread anchored to the ceiling and supporting a damp, dripping eel skin. Moving on, one couldn’t help but stop to examine black traces of soot, evidence of a fire that the artist—not to be confused with the composer of the same name—had set in the gallery and then allowed to burn out. Near the large windows that distinguish the gallery space, light from the exterior courtyard was slightly dimmed, since not far from the glass panes several pieces of transparent black silk cloth were hanging from a cable, as if to delimit an area that the artist considered impassable. There, beyond the black silk, it was possible to glimpse three assemblage sculptures that were almost anthropomorphic, hinting at references to the female body. Untitled (Woman) consists of a white stool pierced by an iron shaft, the tip of which holds a paper ball resembling a head. Untitled (Prostheses) is made up of another white stool, identical to the first, supporting two prostheses made of blue silicone, normally used in breast-augmentation surgery; both prostheses lay on the pages of a newspaper. Finally, Untitled (Black Stool) is composed of a black veil resting on a black stool, and, a short distance away on the floor, an Asian-style bowl, lacquered red on the inside and black on the outside, containing some water and fried freshwater fish; beneath the black stool some other fish lay like stones. These fish—common in the waters around the artist’s hometown of Mantua, Italy—were prepared following an ancient recipe common among the area’s rural population. A narrow corridor invited visitors to change direction, but before doing so, they could turn and see two metal supports on which two metal plinths, painted black, supported a female arm in black Belgian marble and a bust of a woman, portrayed in an early state of pregnancy, also in black Belgian marble.

During my visit to the gallery, I ran into the artist and struck up a conversation about the show and the objects he had used for its creation. He pointed out that the marble looks like plastic (which is true) and that he had wanted to effect a sort of ideal “transubstantiation” of the material, which, to the observer, resembles something that comes from a factory rather than the earth. We then walked on to the second space of the gallery, where I found Untitled (Shirt), a black shirt on a metal coat hanger attached to the wall; another eel skin, similar to the one at the beginning of the installation, emerged from the shirt. Adjacent to this was Untitled (Fish), a wire supporting a hook from which hung a large fried fish. Finally, there were some newspaper pages weighed down by small sculptures in dry mud, along with others in terra-cotta; they seemed like primordial objects. I told the artist that the fried fish had shading that, for me, evoked images of fish painted by the modern master Filippo de Pisis (1896–1956). Francesconi acknowledged the reference and went on to speak about how he approached artmaking as a sort of curatorial practice, focusing on establishing relationships among signs, objects, and discoveries pertaining to his life and the world he finds around him.

Marco Tagliafierro

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.