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Sabrina Mezzaqui, I quaderni di Adriano (Hadrian’s Notebooks), 2016, twenty notebooks, wood-and-glass table; notebooks, each 8 × 9 3/4“; table, 29 1/2 × 44 3/8 × 44 5/8”.

Sabrina Mezzaqui and Paolo Novelli

Galleria Massimo Minini

Sabrina Mezzaqui, I quaderni di Adriano (Hadrian’s Notebooks), 2016, twenty notebooks, wood-and-glass table; notebooks, each 8 × 9 3/4“; table, 29 1/2 × 44 3/8 × 44 5/8”.

There is no clear purpose in hand-drawing ornamental motifs, yet in her I quaderni di Adriano (Hadrian’s Notebooks), 2016, Sabrina Mezzaqui has exhaustively reproduced the decorative scheme of a mosaic floor. Turning the pages of the twenty graph-paper notebooks that comprise the work, arranged in rows of four by five, viewers encountered varying motifs from mosaics in the Roman emperor Hadrian’s villa in Tivoli, an elegant repertory of arabesque, geometric, and floral elements. Ornamentation—an organizational expression of a human predilection for beautiful form—conveys configurations that can be infinitely reiterated. Although seemingly gratuitous, the slow gesture of consciously repeating these decorative schemes in pencil is actually profoundly meaningful, as it articulates the emotional and mental tensions embodied in the ornamental patterns themselves.

But what of

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