From January 20th to March 19th 2022, Building presents On the Wall, exhibition curated by Demetrio Paparoni and featuring works by Paola Angelini, Rafael Megall, Justin Mortimer, Nicola Samorì, Vibeke Slyngstad and Ruprecht von Kaufmann.
Boasting more than forty pieces by six contemporary artists who use figurative painting in profoundly different ways, the show has been designed for the four floors of Building. The works, produced for this exhibition or never exhibited before in Italy, are mostly large format.
The title of the exhibition opens up to different meanings. While on the one hand it conveys the idea of an exhibition of paintings, on the other it recalls the concept of the wall as an element of division between two adjacent spaces, or a limit to overcome. Drawing on the Renaissance concept of the painting as a window on the world, the curator views these works as a poetic detonator capable of opening portals to the outside world, as well as to an intimate or virtual dimension. Whether gateway or escape route, what enables us to cross it is the ability to relate to the meaning embodied by the work.
Demetrio Paparoni sees exhibitions as an attempt to lend order to the chaos of contemporary languages, an undertaking thwarted by the multiplicity of artistic phenomena. Commenting on the choices made, he points out that governing chaos is one of the objectives of science, to gain understanding in advance of things that have not yet happened. Yet given that chaos is a random state determined by forces beyond our control, it will always remain ungovernable. If we extend this idea to the field of artistic practices, the way in which they are born, develop and interact creates a situation of fluidity that makes any attempt to pinpoint the complexity of the various phenomena entirely subjective. Although every exhibition arises from an attempt to get our bearings among this plurality of artistic languages, to offer a compass to help us find a way out of the labyrinth, even the most carefully conceived shows are destined to fail in this attempt.
Indeed, according to Paparoni, the curator's perspective cannot offer a single reading of a phenomenon as fluid as art. This can arise both when bringing together works by different artists, as in the case of On the Wall at Building, and when tackling the oeuvre of a single artist, with all its unpredictable formal, linguistic and conceptual variations. Although all of the artists featured are painters, On the Wall highlights their great diversity of languages and intentions. For On the Wall Paparoni has limited himself exclusively to the field of figurative painting, unlike the exhibition Contemporary Chaos he curated at the Vestfossen Kunstmuseum (Norway) in 2018, or other shows where he has offered a sculptural representation of the chaos of contemporary languages, forging a dialogue between artists who use different means of expression. The project presented at Building is also a continuation of the exploration he carried out in the show Le Nuove Frontiere della Pittura [The New Frontiers of Painting] (2018), and further developed in L’Ultima Cena dopo Leonardo [The Last Supper After Leonardo] (2019), both held at the Stelline Foundation in Milan.
The paintings of Justin Mortimer (Cosford, 1970), for example, are marked by the returning image of a sick person lying in bed, besides the presence of medical equipment or objects, such as a mobile phone or computer, that link them to contemporaneity. The artist’s childhood was marked in fact, among other things, by surgery on his leg due to complications at birth, followed by traumatic treatments and operations throughout his life. Vibeke Slyngstad (Oslo, 1968) shows us fragments of landscapes seen through a photographic lens that also captures flares of light, which she includes in her paintings to show she used the filter of an electronic medium. This is her way of relating to Romanticism. Rafael Megall (Rafael Melikyan, Yerevan, 1983) talks about the present with clear references to Armenian traditions, trapping images in a net of decorative elements belonging to his culture. His images are however also influenced by elements from cinema and cartoons. For his part, Nicola Samorì (Forlì, 1977) manipulates the history of art by rewriting individual narratives that are selected as the subject of his paintings. These narrations do not prevent him from recreating the work, infusing it with conceptual implications and thus using it as a pretext for questioning the language of art. Paola Angelini (San Benedetto del Tronto, 1983) gives shape to a reality that is other, in which memories interact with her imaginary and with influences of Italian early twentieth century art history.
Her three-dimensional definition of space tends to bring the image back to reality. Likewise, the dominant colors, always accentuated by contrasts, tend to create an atmosphere that leads the image into the sphere of the intangible, between dream and memory. Working in the wake traced by German expressionism and contaminating his figuration with the formal dynamics of abstraction, Ruprecht von Kaufmann (Munich, 1974), stages the relationship between human and non-human, with particular attention to the wounds inflicted on nature. Von Kaufmann is a dramatic painter working on the idea of the sacred bond that connects the human being with the animal, plant and mineral worlds.
In the paintings by these artists everything mingles and intertwines. Something similar happens in our minds when we perceive the reality of everyday life, yet when we observe the world directly we hardly ever realize it is happening. This is why we needed painting in the past, and why we always will.
Paola Angelini (San Benedetto del Tronto, 1983). Her work is characterized by the connection between tangibility and vision, the influence of personal memories and the history of painting, the role of discontinuity and the dialogue with the masters. In 2014 and 2016 she took part in the artist residency programs at the Nordic Artists' Center Dale (NKD) in Norway and the Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation in Venice and in 2017 she completed a Master in Fine Arts at KASK & Conservatorium, School of Art in Ghent. In 2011 she exhibited in the Norwegian Pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennale, in the exhibition entitled Baton Sinister. Her works have been shown in the following venues: Marsélleria (Milan, 2016); Palazzo Pretorio Museum (Prato, 2017); Space K, National Gallery of the Marche (Urbino, 2017); Brandstrup Galleri (Oslo, 2018); BGE Gallery (Stavanger, 2019).
Rafael Megall (Rafael Melikyan, Yerevan, 1983). Megall's works revolve around the representation of nature, stylized and interpreted as a decorative element. His main subjects are panthers, tigers and jaguars, but also shattered porcelain, cartoon characters, iconic figures, and monstrous, hybrid creatures, often set against a phytomorphic background. His flat, stylized representations of nature in vivid, full, electric colors, are closer to a digital image than a real one. The absence of perspective and depth, the dense geometry of the graphic elements and their repetition and intertwining generate a horror vacui that recalls Armenian miniatures and the bas-reliefs that adorn places of worship and palaces. To create his paintings Megall uses oils and digitally processed stencils. Many of the elements in his works have a symbolic, religious value. In 2017 he represented the Republic of Armenia at the 57th Venice Biennale. He has held solo shows at the National Gallery of Armenia in Yerevan, and the MMoMA in Moscow, Moscow Museum of Modern Art. He took part the exhibition Le Nuove Frontiere della Pittura at the Stelline Foundation (Milan, 2018).
Justin Mortimer (Cosford, 1970). His works combine images from the Internet with archival material from old books and magazines, presenting a world where nothing is stable or certain, echoing in the tectonic fissures opening up in the old world order. Mortimer has received prestigious awards, including the EAST Award (2004), the NatWest Art Prize (1996) and the BP National Portrait Award (1991). His work has been included in numerous reviews and publications on contemporary painting, including Landscape Painting Now (2019), The Anomie Review of Contemporary British Painting (2018), A Brush With The Real: Figurative Painting Today (2014) and Vitamin P2: New Perspectives in Painting (2011). Recent solo exhibitions include Tomorrow at Space K, Gwacheon, Korea (2020), a show at the Djanogly Art Gallery, University of Nottingham (2015), Future Perfect, in Singapore (2015) and Haunch of Venison, in London (2012).
Nicola Samorì (Forlì, 1977). Samorì starts with meticulously produced copies of works by great masters, mostly from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, dominated by the encounter between light and shadow, which he then transforms, infusing them with the troubled spirit of our times. Perforating, scratching or literally peeling off the paint, either abruptly or with painstaking care, he gives rise to new images that are rooted in art history, but express modern torments in a contemporary language. The artist paints on board or canvas, as well as surfaces like copper and semi-precious stones, incorporating these distinctive textures into his pieces. He also produces frescoes and sculptures. Samorì has taken part in the Venice Biennale twice (2015 and 2011). In recent years, he has had solo shows at Palazzo Fava, Bologna (2021); at the Mart in Trento and Rovereto (2020-21); at the Made in Cloister Foundation and at the MANN, the National Archaeological Museum of Naples (2020). He has also had solo exhibitions abroad in institutional spaces such as the Yu-Hsiu Museum of Art in Taiwan, the Neue Galerie in Gladbeck, the Center for Contemporary Art in Szczecin and the Kunsthalle in Tübingen. His work was featured in Le Nuove Frontiere della Pittura (2018) and L’Ultima Cena dopo Leonardo (2019), both at the Stelline Foundation.
Vibeke Slyngstad (Oslo, 1968). Slyngstad has been taking part in international exhibitions since the 1990s. Her painting is rooted in Romanticism but at the same engages in a critical analysis that ventures into the realm of photography, with landscapes that also include the flawed light effects created by lens flare. In 2009 she took part in the 53rd Venice Biennale, appearing in the exhibition The Collectors in the Nordic Pavilion, curated by Elmgreen & Dragset. Other exhibitions include Contemporary Chaos, Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium (2018), Le Nuove Frontiere della Pittura, Stelline Foundation (2017), and Inside Outside Architecture, National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo (2013).
Ruprecht von Kaufmann (Munich, 1974). Von Kaufmann’s powerful, emotionally charged paintings have something intentionally disturbing about them. In works that often present a dream-like atmosphere, the artist emphasizes the narrative dimension, evoking situations on the edge where we cannot tell what is going to happen next. They also contain elements that hint at dark humor and dense melancholy. He has exhibited extensively, with shows at the Kunsthalle Erfurt, the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Museem Böttcherstrasse in Bremen and the Georg Kolbe Museum in Berlin, and the Kunstlaboratorium in Vestfossen, Norway. In Italy his work appeared in the exhibition Le Nuove Frontiere della Pittura at the Stelline Foundation (Milan, 2018).
Demetrio Paparoni (1954), lives in Milan. Art critic and curator, in 1983 he founded the contemporary art magazine Tema Celeste and the publishing house of the same name, which he directed until 2000. From 1996 to 2008 he taught History of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Catania. His recent book Art and Posthistory, Conversations on the End of Aesthetics, with Arthur C. Danto (Neri Pozza, 2019), is soon to be published in the United States by Columbia University Press. He is head of the art section of the newspaper Domani.