Many artistic movements have come to fashion via the fetishization of entropy, the emulation of images re-rendered and manipulated by the hands of time—consider how Théodore Géricault developed his clusters of bodies with dramatic chiaroscuro, admiring a Sistine Chapel blackened by three hundred years of candle smoke. Now, thanks to the use of sophisticated new technologies, it is possible to influence the cultural canon of images that have reached us through museums, private collections, and photographic documentation.

While the past remains a malleable substance, it can now be deformed and reformed immeasurably with great speed. In an instant, Artificial Intelligence can create a collection of credible 'old masters' that, as soon as they appear on the small screens of our mobile devices, become indistinguishable at a glance from so-called 'original' works. The expedited mass consumption of these images does not allow time for thorough examination; our collective visual archive will soon be clouded.

As in previous exhibitions, the paintings in Blend the Blind, Nicola Samorì’s first solo with Nicodim, evoke the allure of the ancient. Whereas earlier works were based on the direct citation of works by old masters, however, they are now mediated by the application of AI. A function called ‘Blend’ allows the instantaneous combination of icons from art history with any other type of visual information. By gradually nourishing the generated images with new heterogeneous elements, increasingly complex blends are obtained. These new compositions distance themselves from the plundered works and generate a flow that only stops when a form appears potentially suitable for translation into painting. The seductive patina of digital images is continually challenged by the discontinuity of the painterly gesture.

This body of work features some developments of recurring motifs, including the obsession with the effigy of Saint Lucy with pierced eyes. In the two presented versions, she drips with color. These are two heads reminiscent of some faces in Mannerist sculpture, elaborated with AI, entirely painted in oil on a panel, and subsequently 'blinded' to drip the pigment from forms born to be flat and consumed on a monitor.

In None, a series of small-scale paintings, the transcription of censored sexual organs by AI in the process of constructing a male or female nude appears on small stones. The program finds 'creative' solutions to censor what social parameters reject. The small size of these works brings us back to the dimensions of a laptop, but also to the act of spying on images that appear as miniatures, much like what happens every day as we enter the flow of shapes that our devices show us.

In contrast, the massive diptych Blend the Blind (which gives the exhibition its title) transforms a small digital rendering into a monumental painting in the artist’s hand. The original image is the result of AI manipulation of Pieter Bruegel the Elder's famous work titled The Parable of the Blind blended with images of my works, including sphinx sculptures presented in recent exhibitions. The famous Flemish painting's sequence of characters, seemingly immortalized in a sleepwalking stroll from dawn to night, remains intact. The adopted technique contradicts the soft modeling of the AI-generated image, introducing a discontinuity and brutality of gestures that consist of creating monotypes on paper, tearing them, and assembling them into a complex mosaic of gestures and anatomical fragments.

The Roman Butterfly starts from a painting by Luca Giordano representing Tarquinio and Lucrezia, an episode of violence from Roman history that, curiously, due to the foreground female nudity, cannot be uploaded to AI platforms. In this case, the matrix image was created on a dense layer of oil pigment in various vivid colors, which, once the superficial part of the painting dried, was detached from the frame and folded first along the horizontal axis and then the vertical one, forcing the bodies to intertwine due to the pressure exerted on the back of the canvas. The abrupt reopening of the canvas caused multiple tears on the painted surface, exposing the inside of the painting, and its geology, and shifting violence from a plane of pure representation to a physical act inflicted directly on the body of the painting.

Wounds that appear on small portraits made on various types of marble and onyx also seem to result from violence or disease, but in reality, they are not injuries but natural cavities in the stones—so-called 'geodes'—around which faces with soft and pleasant features have been modeled, once again the result of a blending operation through AI of faces taken from ancient paintings and photographs from his archive. The immateriality of the virtual thus collides with the more solid materiality, and on the flattest and smoothest faces, true caves open up, allowing us to inspect the inside of an image and look at the face as if it were a broken sculpture.

Despite the source compositions being the result of AI-driven operations, the wide range of techniques employed in the exhibition stems from Samorì’s familiarity with the materials employed. The application of oils on stone, copper plates, and canvas is made possible by his own human practice, experience, and experimentation with the personalities, nuance, and chemistry of the materials. His materials dictate the rules and call images to themselves. The material exuberance of these works is the greatest challenge that can be posed by the literal absence of materiality in digital creations. He sees it as a way to slow down the frenzied pace with which digital images proliferate on the screen. One of the inexhaustible forces of painting is to bind the hand, mind, and eye to a manifestation that, even if fast, follows a biological rhythm of breath and heartbeat.

Nicola Samorì (b. 1977, Forlì, Italy) lives and works in Bagnacavallo, Italy. His work was included as a part of the Italian Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Recent exhibitions include Blend the Blind, Nicodim, New York (2024, solo, forthcoming); Disembodied, Nicodim, Los Angeles (2024); Joshua Hagler, Devin B. Johnson, Nicola Samorì, Hugo Wilson, Nicodim, Los Angeles (2023); DisembodiedD, Nicodim, New York (2023); Le Ossa della Madre, Villa d’Este, Tivoli (2022, solo); On the Wall, Building Gallery, Milan (2022); Mono, Galerie Eigen+Art, Lipsia (2022, solo); Sfregi, Palazzo Fava, Bologna (2021, solo); Roma (Manuale della mollezza e la tecnica dell’eclisse), Monitor Gallery, Rome (2021, solo); Danae Revisited, Fondazione Francesco Fabbri, Pieve di Soligo (2021); 141 – Un secolo di disegno in Italia, Fondazione del Monte, Bologna (2021); Black Square, Fondazione Made in Cloister e Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples (2020, solo).

Others include In abisso, Galerie Eigen + Art, Berlin (2020, solo); Lucìe, MART- Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Rovereto (2020, solo); Stand 1D08, Galerie Eigen + Art, Berlin (2020); Collective Care: A House with Many Guests, M Woods, Chaoyang, Beijing (2020); Cannibal Trail, Yu-Hsiu Museum of Art, Caotun (2019, solo); Solstizio d’Inferno, Biblioteca Classense, Ravenna (2019, solo); Metafysica, Haugar Vestfold Kunstmuseum, Tønsberg (2019); Preparing for Darkness – Vol. 3: I’m Not There, Kühlhaus, Berlin (2019); Iscariotes: Matteo Fato/Nicola Samorì, Casa Testori, Milan (2018, solo); Malafonte, Galerie Eigen + Art, Berlin (2018, solo); Bild Macht Religion: Kunst zwischen Verehrung, Verbot und Vernichtung, Kunstmuseum, Bochum (2018); Begotten, Not Made, Ana Cristea Gallery, New York (2014, solo); The Venerable Abject, Ana Cristea Gallery, New York (2012).