Rome

View of “Nuti.Scarpa: È questa la prima o l’ultima notte sul nostro pianeta?” (Nuti.Scarpa: Is This the First or the Last Night on Our Planet?), 2021. From left: Lulù Nuti, Mari (Seas), 2020–21; Delfina Scarpa, Motore, remoto (Motor, Remote), 2020. Photo: Simon d’Exéa.

View of “Nuti.Scarpa: È questa la prima o l’ultima notte sul nostro pianeta?” (Nuti.Scarpa: Is This the First or the Last Night on Our Planet?), 2021. From left: Lulù Nuti, Mari (Seas), 2020–21; Delfina Scarpa, Motore, remoto (Motor, Remote), 2020. Photo: Simon d’Exéa.

Lulù Nuti and Delfina Scarpa

Galleria Alessandra Bonomo

In this exhibition, “Nuti.Scarpa: È questa la prima o l’ultima notte sul nostro pianeta?” (Nuti.Scarpa: Is This the First or the Last Night on Our Planet?), Lulù Nuti and Delfina Scarpa embarked on the discovery of geographies and fragments of a world in transformation. The two young Roman artists’ explorations took them from the sky to the ocean depths as they passed through almost fairytale gardens between day and night. Nuti (born 1988), the more nomadic of the two, works in Rome and Paris and is a passionate ocean traveler who once spent a monthlong residency on a cargo ship. Scarpa (born 1993), on the other hand, rarely ventures far from the Eternal City, doing so only to explore the luxuriant woods of Lazio and Umbria.

What occupied both artists in this show, curated by Teodora di Robilant, was preservation and care—of memories as well as of the environment—as fundamental elements of the feminine. For Nuti, who uses her own body and senses as a measure, acquiring knowledge means challenging her materials and transpires through tactility and manual skill. You can feel the passion of her hands at work. Focusing on the recycling of construction materials and their impact on the ecosystem, the artist kneads raw industrial substances—plaster, cement, plastic, and tile glue—to make sculptures, installed on the floor or wall, whose forms are simple and organic. In the ongoing series “Calcare il mondo” (Molding the World), 2017–, she casts negative forms from inflatable geographic globes using cement, plaster, and pigment. In a subseries within this body of work, she also brings to light primordial finds from the ocean floor: the works in “Sun Sulfur Iron,” 2019, consist of variously sized crusty shells, their valves grooved by iridescent venations. Spread open or barely closed, they have rough surfaces akin to those of Cy Twombly’s sculptures—and they attain the same degree of poetry. I was impressed by her command of materials and her ability to expand or contract concave and convex forms that resemble receptacles or wombs of color, light, and darkness. In her economy of means, Nuti recycles all the sculptures’ leftovers, generating new aggregations. To make the installation Mari (Seas), 2020–21, she used the last scraps of her sculptures: small chunks of colored cement that look like concretions of synthetic undersea corals grown on modular metal poles. Randomly conjoined at different heights, the fragments generate an elastic transparent space in expansion. These works are internal and external panoramas, in which viewers can also encounter the dark part of themselves.

Scarpa similarly offers glimpses into a search for an ecological and psychological equilibrium by painting dreamy landscapes of her childhood: the gardens of Sermoneta and Ninfa, some fifty miles from Rome. These beloved places of memory are evoked with diaphanous, unreal, and at times disquieting tones. The forest in her diptych Motore, remoto (Motor, Remote), 2020, is a mysterious place of distorted perspectives, where the artist faces a tortuous path to self-discovery. Pink and blue tree trunks in the foreground are not obstacles, but transparent forms that entice the viewer toward phosphorescent-green meadows. However, great courage is required to penetrate the darkness of the background, a penumbra that encloses the unknown. But just as she explores the night, Scarpa also opens herself up to solar luminosity and states of grace. In her small-scale works, she plays with bubbling tones of aqua, green, and orange to delimit fleeting images in rapid close-up details of nature. Sometimes she uses sugary colors that are perhaps a bit too sweet; in other works she employs an acidic palette, as if the world she observes were on the verge of dying from air pollution. And yet, for her, this adventure within nature’s fluctuating rhythms is also a pretext for satisfying her pleasure in painting; hers is a fresh approach, not yet fully mature but evolving, ebullient with curiosity.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.