Pittura Italiana…e altre storie minori | Italian Painting…and other minor stories
Casino dei Principi, Archivio della Scuola Romana, Villa Torlonia, Rome
Co-organised with Angelo Mosca in collaboration with Maria Ida Gaeta, Casa delle Letterature, Rome
Lorenza Boisi (1972), Carlo Dalla Zorza (Venezia, 1903-1977), Carlo Levi (Torino, 1902-Roma, 1975), Ivan Malerba (1972), Roberto Melli (Ferrara, 1885-Roma, 1958), Angelo Mosca (1961), Fausto Pirandello (Roma, 1899-1975), Pio Semeghini (Mantova, 1878-Verona, 1964), Michele Tocca (1983).
In the exhibition, paintings by 20th-century artists Pio Semeghini, Roberto Melli, Fausto Pirandello, Carlo Levi and Carlo Dalla Zorza are re-involved in the present to be questioned by works by Lorenza Boisi,Ivan Malerba, Angelo Mosca and Michele Tocca.
Semeghini, Melli, Pirandello, Levi and Dalla Zorza are all figures who have deliberately occupied, to different extents, awkward, liminal positions within modernity, offering highly individual, probing views on major aesthetical discussions. They have contributed to shape the art of their time whilst paving the way for its future critical reconsideration, anticipating cultural concerns and trends, showing alternative and fresh possibilities for painting, influencing a number of seminal artists via their work and writings on art as well as via social and political initiatives. Their different degrees of recognition in the present, their oscillating fortuna critica, is surely a sign of the complexity of their legacy, of the transitional place they occupied and of the curious, unusual aspects of art they revealed: those other minor stories that expose how difficult and compelling it is to make sense of the kaleidoscopic panorama of inter-war painting with its fluctuations, traditions, experiments.
Removed from their role as epitome of a given historical climate, re-engaged in the present, their paintings resonate to the point that, in the exhibition, they slowly abandon their status as interviewees and start to question the works of Boisi, Malerba, Mosca and Tocca –none of which made in response to the show– about their role as paintings in the present.
With their stories, ruminations, formal qualities and metaphoric significances, the works on view exist autonomously as well as they imply, probe and test each other, taking on yet another new life together to articulate a polyphonic conversation piece, that unfolds painting as an ongoing inquiry into its necessity. The museum’s space becomes a sort of waiting room, where to whisper about the unstable boundaries between time and history; the new and the old; delays, afterthoughts and anticipations; the notion of minor and major works; the pastness and the presentness of motifs, genres and styles and the possibility of their survival and existence.
The discussion continues in the book published upon the occasion by Castelvecchi, in which writings by the artists and essays by art critic Alberto Mugnaini and Andrea Viliani, Director of MADRE, Museum of Contemporary Art, Naples, reflect on issues of fortuna critica; time, stories and history; empathy; untimeliness and anticipation; museum highlights and 'storage works'. The book is also an opportunity to read rarely published texts on art by the XX-century artists, including Carlo Levi's 1942 Paura della Pittura, an extremely lucid, vivid analysis of the notion of freedom in art and a heartfelt warning against the possible political uses of aesthetics; Roberto Melli's passionate, questioning and refreshing view of modernity in Casa d'arte (1918); and a selection of Fausto Pirandello's idiosyncratic, both humorous and metaphysical thoughts on painting.