Palermo

Liliana Moro, Ouverture, 2017, melting tin, industrial jack, twenty-four ceramic cherry couples, five glassy ceramic tangerines, dimensions variable.

Liliana Moro, Ouverture, 2017, melting tin, industrial jack, twenty-four ceramic cherry couples, five glassy ceramic tangerines, dimensions variable.

Liliana Moro

Francesco Pantaleone Arte Contemporanea | Palermo

Liliana Moro, Ouverture, 2017, melting tin, industrial jack, twenty-four ceramic cherry couples, five glassy ceramic tangerines, dimensions variable.

It had been some time since Liliana Moro has had a solo show of recent work in her native city of Milan, although earlier this year she participated in a two-artist show with Francesco Fonassi at Renata Fabbri. In keeping with Moro’s usual practice, “Ouverture,” her exhibition at Francesco Pantaleone—a young gallery from Palermo that has recently opened a new space in the Lombard capital—consisted of a very concise selection of work, in this case two sculptures and four drawings connected by the theme of still life. The first sculpture viewers encountered,  Ouverture (all works 2017), was a grouping of small elements placed on the floor at the center of the first room: no base, no enhancement, just the reduction of the work, actually and metaphorically, to the level of the most everyday experience—typical of Moro’s approach. The grouping contained two strange metallic figures, each with a cat’s head and a body made from one of two different now-obsolete automobile jacks. The smaller cat object looks up toward the taller one, which, however, directs its glance elsewhere. Both heads have one ear adorned with a pair of cherries, bringing to mind a childhood game. Around the two sculptures, resting on the ground, were five tangerines and a group of red cherries, all made from glazed ceramic, like the cherries decorating the heads.

This still life is the result of the artist’s adoption of the traditional practice of ceramics as part of her effort to revive a manual, direct relationship with the earth and with techniques connected to it. Her unpretentious and precarious placement of the objects on the floor, which exposes them to possible inadvertent kicks by distracted visitors, emphasizes the fragility of nature itself and the dangers to which we subject it with our guilty (and ultimately suicidal) disregard of the environment.

This idea became clearer with Natura Morta (Still Life), which was positioned on the floor at the center of the second room. Here everything was close to the ground, and again there were tangerines and cherries, as well as four bunches of grapes. This piece plays on three different levels of mimesis, since the tangerines are realistically painted and colored, the cherries are glazed but anti-naturalistically white, and the grapes retain the dark color of fired terra-cotta and are rather vaguely delineated. 

Moro produced the four graphite-on-paper drawings, as she has explained, by making copies from tracing paper on which the image had already been depicted. The result appears as a sort of rudimentary print. Three of the drawings (all Untitled) portrayed the delicate profile of a very sketchily defined female face sporting cherries on her ears. The fourth drawing, also untitled, showed a hand that offers a similar fruit to this lovely creature’s mouth. These images of cherries, which were the crux of the entire show, thematically connected the works in the spirit of an emotional action, taken, like an indirect quotation, from a scene in Che cosa sono le nuvole? (What Are Clouds?), Pier Paolo Pasolini’s episode from the 1968 anthology film Capriccio all’italiana (Caprice Italian Style), in which an Othello puppet flirts with his Desdemona. The implications of a still life can be more sinister than you’d expect.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.