Rome

View of “Alek O.,” 2014. Foreground: Banane, 2014. Background, from left: Tangram, 2014; Fino Mornasco, 2014; Tangram, 2014.

View of “Alek O.,” 2014. Foreground: Banane, 2014. Background, from left: Tangram, 2014; Fino Mornasco, 2014; Tangram, 2014.

Alek O.

Frutta | Rome

View of “Alek O.,” 2014. Foreground: Banane, 2014. Background, from left: Tangram, 2014; Fino Mornasco, 2014; Tangram, 2014.

For her solo debut in Rome, “If There is a Last Summer Morning,” Argentinean-born, Como, Italy–based artist Alek O. presented works focused above all on the concept of time—particularly on the various semantic nuances through which it is manifested in daily life. While the individual pieces in the show have their own expressive autonomy, taken together they formed a cohesive and imaginative installation capable of completely engaging the viewer’s senses. Six of them, “curtain works,” in the artist’s informal description, are made from old curtains that she has salvaged from their original, usually domestic use. Their titles are, in fact, the names of their former owners or locations: Pasqualina, Oltrepò Pavese, Filo Mornasco, Sig.ra. Rosotto, Giambellino, Annunziata (all works 2014). The curtains are arranged on symmetrical geometric structures, becoming flat, colorful surfaces, similar to paintings on canvas. The works’ broad fields of color are not uniform, instead displaying continuous variations of tone and chromatic intensity, a result of human activity and atmospheric conditions, both natural (light, heat, cold, rain, wind) and artificial (urban pollution), that the fabric (sometimes a unified hue, sometimes striped or patterned) records and conveys to the viewer’s eye.

A similar process underlies four works from the artist’s ongoing “Tangram” series, begun in 2011, which differ from the curtain works in their irregular geometric cut. As implied by the series’ title, they are organized in a way that brings to mind a puzzle. All the works function similarly on a conceptual level, visually explicating the surrounding atmosphere that they absorb and the everyday life in which they once played a role. Furthermore, all the works share a capacity to carry on a dialogue with the history of twentieth-century art. Indeed, each series, in its own way, evokes certain creative experiences of the recent past, particularly the rigor of Conceptual art and the essentiality of geometrical abstraction and Minimalism, reworking and updating their forms and content. One might also say the same of the sculptures in the show, a white-plaster-coated banana (Banane) and pear (Pera) positioned on black metal plinths. With their echoes of Pop iconography and art informel’s material repertory, these objects, like Alek O.’s pictorial works, attest to a peculiar aspect of her art: She confronts reality through the filter of memory. The entire exhibition could be understood as a confirmation of the process of physical and emotional stratification that memory enacts on both things and individuals—itself a continuous source of inspiration for the artist.

Pier Paolo Pancotto

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.