Milan

Federico Tosi, Ariel (Spirale) (Ariel [Spiral]), 2018, concrete, glue,  39 × 35 3⁄8 × 1 3⁄8".

Federico Tosi, Ariel (Spirale) (Ariel [Spiral]), 2018, concrete, glue, 39 × 35 3⁄8 × 1 3⁄8".

Federico Tosi

Monica De Cardenas | Milan

Propelled by an imagination poised between tragedy and pulp fiction, Federico Tosi’s exhibition “Goodbye bye bye” proposed a journey through both space and time: not only from the immensity of the cosmos to the most profound depths of the sea, but also through the history of evolution. In the gallery’s first room, the starting point was the universe itself, which exploded in a myriad of stars and galaxies in four large drawings executed in felt-tip pen on paper. The deep blue-black of the cosmos was illuminated by flashes of indigo, red, and yellow, and was made vibrant by a dense, swarming weave of stars.

These works also revealed the artist’s interest in pushing beyond the limitations of specific techniques and materials. Looking at them close-up, viewers could detect the painstakingly repeated passages of color that imbue the surface with depth and light, revealing the way Tosi deceptively employs the marker pen as if he were applying watercolor or paint in glazes, layerings, and superimpositions. The artist’s affinity for the Baroque was palpable, and his love for its use of wonder and artifice was as apparent here as in the second room, where nineteen gigantic concrete “fossils” seemed remains of animal and plant organisms from a remote past. Alongside other fragments, Ariel (Riccio) (Ariel [Curly]), Ariel (Spirale) (Ariel [Spiral]), and Ariel (Denti) (Ariel [Teeth]) (all works 2018) made up a repertoire of imaginary but convincing specimens—sponges, shells, bones—installed as if waiting to be catalogued in a museum warehouse. (The titles of Tosi’s works often stress a lighthearted attachment to the worlds of film and mass culture: While one of the marker-pen drawings was titled L.A. Confidential, toning down what might otherwise seem overly dramatic and grandiose, “Ariel” not only has many literary resonances, but is a familiar name in pop culture, from Disney to Marvel.)

Another concrete sculpture, Untitled (Stargate), likewise evoked ancient things, bringing to mind the beginning of human culture in the form of a fragment of ancient architecture. In Principe (Prince), the perfect, sinuous, and fractal form of an enormous shell, executed in olive wood, revealed the mathematical language of natural phenomena. A group of small bronze sculptures, Like Ophyocordiceps Unilateralis, showed a fungus attacking a finger, transforming it into a mass of unpredictable material. The consumption of the body to the point where it is reborn in another form embodies the alchemical principle of the metamorphosis of matter through the slow passage of time, while also alluding to the Baroque penchant for surprise and caprice.

The work that concluded the show had the look of a colorful little toy. This small resin sculpture, Underwater, depicts a boy who looks at a shell he is holding as he swims. Positioned in isolation in the space, the figurine transformed the white wall into the immensity of the ocean, connecting to the vastness of the universe at the beginning of the exhibition in another allusion to the long and inexorable temporality of evolution.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.