What Triennial painting exhibition leaves us

What Triennial painting exhibition leaves us

Giorgia Massari · 3 months ago · Art

Pittura Italiana Oggi (Italian Painting Today) is the title of the collective painting exhibition at the Triennale Milano, which will conclude in a few days, to be precise, on February 11th. While on one hand, the exhibition aimed to provide the public with a general overview of the direction that painting is taking in Italy today, on the other hand, ideas seem to be somewhat confused. Speaking with artists and curators and reading some articles, particularly Valentina Bartalesi’s article full of questions on FlashArt and Federico Giannini’s more critical piece on Finestre sull’arte, the only common thread in the exhibition curated by Damiano Gullì seems to be the present, emphasized in the title (oggi – today). But how can the one hundred and twenty artists present map the current situation, which is instead constituted by thousands of painters? The artists involved, selected by Gullì based on studio visits conducted by him, belong to different generations, from the so-called Boomers to Gen Z, finding in Triennale an institutional space to dialogue, unknowingly or, at least, only in retrospect. The exhibition, with its free or disorienting path, depending on the points of view, is equally controversial and attempts the feat of summarizing in a single large corridor the complexity that defines Italian painting today, following the model of the 19th-century salon. In this perspective, it is inevitable to think about the exclusion, if we talk about mapping, that the exhibition indirectly communicates. The selection, undoubtedly challenging, generates quite a few discussions. Perhaps, in this regard, it would have been more decisive and impactful to take a clear position and limit the selection to only young artists, under 35 for example, to give significant (often lacking) space to emerging talents, although this choice could also create controversies. From a content perspective, the courageous intention to outline the more or less exhaustive situation of various branches of contemporary Italian painting is clear, from three-dimensional works – or sculptural painting – to the desolation present in the canvases which, to quote Marco Bassan on Artribune, “is the most invasive sensation” of the exhibition. Given the complexity of the exhibition, we don’t want to delve too much into detail, but at least report two aspects we find interesting: the three-dimensional works and the delicate and intimate works of the younger artists, focusing on the ones we liked the most.

Installazione della mostra Pittura italiana oggi – photo di Piercarlo Quecchia DSL Studio © Triennale Milano

Three-dimensional works

From the outset, the presence of works that aim to break free from the confines of the canvas, expanding into space, is evident. Two examples that we find noteworthy are the works of Paolo Gonzato and Giuliana Rosso. The former with “OUT OF STOCK,” an entire site-specific wall covered in diamond-shaped patterns; the latter with “Tree House,” one of her “scenography” works that we have already seen at The Address in Brescia and at Artissima in Turin. In particular, Rosso’s work delicately narrates contemporary adolescence. A treehouse becomes the stage for dangerous challenges undertaken by two teenagers who are the protagonists of the scene. Alongside the physically present smartphone in front of the artwork, visitors can only observe the scene, excluded from the action and the three-dimensional space created by the artist using the corner of two walls. Three-dimensional works, to borrow from the title of Episode 7 of Tiziano Scarpa’s podcast for Triennale Milano, can either be participatory in a bodily experience or choose to exclude the spectator. In any case, here the perspective is sought in space rather than in technique, necessitating a physical observation rather than just a digital one, bringing the audience back to the center and requiring their presence.

Paolo Gonzato, OUT OF STOCK – courtesy Apalazzo Gallery

The language of young artists is intimate and sincere

Continuing to emphasize what we liked, we focus on a specific language – the genuine, sincere, and intimate language of some of the painters chosen by Gullì for this collective exhibition. From Emilio Gola (1994) to Aronne Pleuteri (2001), some of the youngest participants, and passing through Chiara Enzo (1989), Ismaele Nones (1992), and Flaminia Veronesi (1986), these artists have the ability to truly listen to the world and translate it into images that strike different chords. In the case of Chiara Enzo, we find with pleasure one of her small canvases, depicting the vulnerability of the individual through an extremely realistic technique. Pleuteri’s work, on the other hand, delves into a more or less explicit catastrophic, belligerent imaginary, inevitably connecting to the current geopolitical situation. Veronesi’s language is more fairy-tale-like, cheerful, and carefree, akin to Gola’s painting, capable of reflecting the other side of contemporary society, longing for freedom, lightness, and equality. Nones, on the same path, through a language that looks to the iconography of the past, honestly addresses present themes such as sexuality and alienation.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Emilio Gola (@emilio.gola)

Enzo Chiara, Accidente, 2022, 14,8×17,6 cm

What’s left?

As Giannini rightly expresses in the mentioned article, a visit to “Italian Painting Today” can’t help but leave us with that post-art fair feeling. Many works, all together but disconnected, an overall enjoyable experience but one that leaves us with few memories, undoubtedly subjective and influenced by our personal perception of what we liked and what we didn’t. Giannini also likens the experience to a football match, «with the audience commenting on the performances of those on the field and complaining about those left on the bench.»

Nones Ismaele, “Emma I”, 2021, pittura acrilica su tela, 135x90cm
Moretti Pietro, Tra i tuoi vuoti, 2022, 190×140 cm
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The freedom without veils in Birdee’s shots

The freedom without veils in Birdee’s shots

Giulia Guido · 4 weeks ago · Photography

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly / Into the light of the dark black night, sang the Beatles more than fifty years ago, and it is this song, and its message of freedom, that inspired Jamie Johnson in the choice of what is now her stage name, Birdee. Birdee has been shooting since 2014, when she started with self-portraits. Today, her photographs taken mainly in analogical form are able to analyze the themes of femininity, strength and grace.  The young girls who are the protagonists of her shots are beautiful, carefree, suspended but not for this reason they are not determined and tenacious. Moreover, the fact that we almost never show their bodies in full and often hide their faces helps us to identify with them. They are nobody, so they can be anyone, even ourselves. 

Scrolling through Birdee’s website or her Instagram profile, you will notice that in addition to female figures there is also another element that always comes back in her shots, real water. It almost seems as if the graceful bodies of the girls who shoot are transformed in contact with the waves of the sea or a swimming pool. The little bubbles that caress the skin give light and life to the images. 

Discover a selection of Birdee’s photographs below. 

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The Weight of Memory through Ana Topoleanu’s Shots

The Weight of Memory through Ana Topoleanu’s Shots

Collater.al Contributors · 4 weeks ago · Photography

Ana Topoleanu is a Romanian-Mexican photographer who blends elements from her origins into captivating visual narratives. Her journey into photography began as a means to express her thoughts and capture the essence of the world around her, a passion ignited after completing her studies at the University of Sociology in Bucharest. Since then, photography has become more than just a craft for Topoleanu: it is her universal language and preferred form of expression. Inspired by the diverse cultures of Romania and Mexico, Topoleanu’s work invites viewers on a journey of discovery, urging them to pause, reflect, and appreciate the beauty that exists in both the ordinary and extraordinary. Her photography delves into themes such as the role of women in society, the complexities of motherhood, and the power of human relationships and memories. Today, we discuss “My Pillow”, a project that reflects on memory; let’s see how.

Ana Topoleanu’s My Pillow

One of her most touching projects, “My Pillow,” is a testament to the emotional depth and complexity of her work. The project began during the last years of her grandmother’s life, who accompanied her during her formative years. Topoleanu fondly remembers her grandmother, affectionately called mamaia, as a source of love, guidance, and inspiration. As her grandmother’s health declined, Topoleanu embarked on a photographic journey to preserve the memories of their time together and honor her legacy.

Topoleanu felt that this approach lacked the depth she wanted to convey. Through continuous refinement and introspection, the project evolved into “My Pillow,” a title deeply rooted in memory, representing a poignant moment before her grandmother’s passing. While working on My Pillow, Topoleanu focused on capturing the ephemeral nature of time and the inevitable passage of generations. Each photograph served as an attempt to freeze moments slipping away, reflecting the gradual fading of precious memories and the profound impact of loss.

For Topoleanu, “My Pillow” is more than just a photographic series: it is a labor of love, a tribute to her grandmother, and a reflection of her personal journey through grief and healing. Through her lens, she invites viewers to explore the universal themes of love, loss, and the enduring power of memory.

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Marta Passalacqua and the sad side of summer

Marta Passalacqua and the sad side of summer

Collater.al Contributors · 4 weeks ago · Photography

Summertime Sadness is called Marta Passalacqua‘s photographic project that reveals the sad side of summer. Born almost unconsciously, Passalacqua’s shots place colorful elements in dialogue with desolate settings. Summer has not yet begun, or has just ended. The photographer provides no spatio-temporal indications except for a few clues. A deserted beach with closed umbrellas, then cloths lying in the sun. Or even unlit showers. Human presence never appears but is instead replaced by “objects that smell of saltiness,” placed in a suspended and infinite time that seems to never end. «Summertime Sadness” is the poignant melancholy that catches us, often unprepared, in the middle of a sunny afternoon. It has the flavor of moments already experienced and others still waiting for us, unknown,» reads the curatorial text of Liquida Photofestival in Turin, where Marta Passalacqua will exhibit from May 2 to 5, 2024.

marta passalacqua | Collater.al
marta passalacqua | Collater.al
marta passalacqua | Collater.al
marta passalacqua | Collater.al
marta passalacqua | Collater.al
marta passalacqua | Collater.al

Courtesy Marta Passalacqua

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Perspective, Suzanne Saroff distorted photography

Perspective, Suzanne Saroff distorted photography

Giulia Pacciardi · 4 weeks ago · Photography

In her latest series Perspective, the photographer Suzanne Saroff, creates distorted images of colourful food using glass objects and vases filled with water.
Images play with light and shadow, appearing fractured, divided into several parts, shrinking and incredibly distorted.

With tools and techniques such as refraction, directional light and vivid colours, her photographs offer to everyday objects alternative visual paths.
In fact, through shadows and fragmentation, they seem to become something more than what they really are.

Follow her on Instagram to stay up to date on her beautiful photographic project.

Perspective, le fotografie distorte di Suzanne Saroff | Collater.al 1 Perspective, le fotografie distorte di Suzanne Saroff | Collater.al 2 Perspective, le fotografie distorte di Suzanne Saroff | Collater.al 3 Perspective, le fotografie distorte di Suzanne Saroff | Collater.al 4 Perspective, le fotografie distorte di Suzanne Saroff | Collater.al 5 Perspective, le fotografie distorte di Suzanne Saroff | Collater.al 6 Perspective, le fotografie distorte di Suzanne Saroff | Collater.al 7 Perspective, le fotografie distorte di Suzanne Saroff | Collater.al 8

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