23 Maggio 2014 | solo show
Vesperbild curated by Pietro C. Marani
Transfiguration, twilight, and rebirth are the themes, rooted in classicism yet reinterpreted from a contemporary viewpoint, that feature Agostino Arrivabene’s latest works. From May 23rd to July 26th we find them in the solo exhibition Vesperbild, held at the Giovanni Bonelli Gallery in Milan: a sequence of images and stories drawn from the world of mythology and literature depicting the different stages of a process that, starting from inner and physical suffering, evolves into a desire for healing through dream or divine intervention, resulting in a transmutation into new bodies.
The project takes its name from Vesperbilder (literally “vesper pictures”), sculptures that made their appearance in Germany in the 14th century depicting a Madonna with the body of Jesus dead resting upon her womb. The German representations of the Pietà are often characterized by intensely expressive and pathetic accents, especially in the representation of the body of Christ, which, through the transfiguration of his flesh and face, became almost disfigured, as if to indicate an embodiment of suffering. Vesperbilder were a point of union between two extreme stages, i.e. between death and resurrection. They were the images of waiting, icons of crepuscular meditation, in short a link of union between night and day and vice versa. Agostino Arrivabene’s contemporary Vesperbilder are basically meant as a reflection on this concept of transition, threshold, and boundary between light and shadow.
These paintings are characterised by the impressive rise of a compassionate attention to what is mortal, frail, and ill.
The work entitled Monatto dai muti campanelli (Monatto with soundless bells – aka corpse carrier, i.e. the person who removed corpses during a plague), which is inspired by the Ovid’ character Cyparissus, portrays a plague victim turning into a plant creature. Just as in his mythical counterpart, here the monatto is crying in an incessant, yet silent, mourn. To weep for his pain there are instead two mutant mourners, inspired by the anatomical figures of Bernhard Siegfried Albinus, as the second element of the triptych.
The polyptych dedicated to the story of Orpheus and Eurydice focuses on the ritual singing through which Orpheus tries to retrieve his beloved back from the realm of the dead. The girl’s fragmented hand and her little face in ecstasy, set aside from the rest of the body in order to form each a distinct element of the triptych, actually become a symbol of eternal supplication.
Other works on display in the exhibition show clearly to have their origin in Bruegel’s floral iconographies: here the artist gives life to creatures reminiscent of Arcimboldo’s paintings where shadows devour the identity covered only with flowers that become catalysers of generative pollen.
The exhibition closes with an eclectic project in which Arrivabene combines painting, sculpture and goldsmithery. Starting from the icon of the Dioscuri, the artist merges their identity into a new Siamese monster, whose two heads are surrounded by strange bone crowns drawn from the iconographic world of Ernst Haeckel. Eventually, the artist creates a micro sculpture of precious materials that will be turned into cufflinks, thanks to the skill of Mirco Baroso, a jeweller who has been called by Arrivabene to establish a dialogue with his work.
Galleria Giovanni Bonelli
via Porro lambertenghi 6 Milano
May 23rd – July 26th 2014
Opening reception Thursday, May 22nd, at 6:30 pm
Opening Hours Tuesday - Saturday 11:00 am – 7:00 pm. Monday by appointment.
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