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ASA NISI MASA with works by LULA BROGLIO, FEDERICO CANTALE and DAVIDE MANCINI ZANCHI curated by IRENE SOFIA COMI at THE HOUSE [from 20210318 to 20210630]
[Photos: Cosimo Filippini]
Living every day within the confines of domestic walls is a condition more habitual than ever: the bodily experience in the home has taken on a primary role and is close to a change in the way we relate to the world around us, not only between body and environment, but also between living and non-living existences. Talking about inanimate objects, the car designer Chris Bangle revealed that when he designs he looks at "things'' through the lens of objectomy, or in other words through the ability to think about the condition of what's in front of him from its inside, to grasp its full potential and personality. It is increasingly evident that the human being does not inhabit things, but representations of things and that, consequently, the imaginary acts on the real and therefore on the body and its behaviors. This awareness can then be converted into an opportunity for a greater agency, getting the ability to act on the domestic reality of which we experience through the relationship with the objects with which we relate.
Asa Nisi Masa develops from the relationship between human being, domestic environment and object, and, reflecting on the limits of the language with which we interpret what is living and what is not, challenges the common perception and shows objects that assume autonomy within the house, as if they were bewitched by a spell. The title of the exhibition, moreover, takes its cue from a scene in Fellini's film Otto ó that became famous for the enigmatic phrase "Asa Nisi Masa", a magic formula pronounced by some film's characters in an apparently meaningless language - but which in the serpentine alphabet can be translated as the word "soul" - that has the power to make a portrait's eyes move.
In a more or less declared way, the researches of Broglio, Cantale and Mancini Zanchi draw on moments of everyday life, where the idea of object or environment moves away from its pre-constituted connotation and releases a poetic, surreal and animist potential. Like eccentric characters of a possible theatrical play, the works inhabit the house and manifest the ancestral need to pay care and attention to gestures and actions in daily life, with an apparently playful and naive presence.
Mancini Zanchi reinterprets and surpasses the aesthetics of the ready-made as a material gesture, incorporating familiar objects in his sculptures, he keeps their function unchanged, so that they can still be used in everyday life, but in a playful way: thus, Portasapone is a sculpture, but also a dispenser for sanitizing hands, and Coltelliera or Scovolino per WC converse with the environments in which they would be used in real life. They are works that can be activated and that, by becoming a "field of action", involve the observer, investing THE HOUSE him with the poetic charge hidden behind every single gesture. In other cases, as in Monochrome or Untitled, the artist creates paintings that evoke real objects and camouflage themselves in the domestic environment, challenging the idea of abstract painting.
This aspect can be found, albeit in a different key, in Cantale's poetics: the artist draws on the imagery of reality without ever mimicking it, and creates sculptures in lacquered wood, with pop colors, with saturated hues. This aspect can be found, albeit in a different key, in Cantale's poetics: the artist draws on the imagery of reality without ever mimicking it, and creates sculptures in lacquered wood, with pop colors, with saturated hues. As in Eyeliner or Cozze alla Cantale, the forms are synthesized in stylized lines and geometric abstractions, capable of winking at cartoon drawings and Japanese tradition, as well as art history, archeology and cinema. Some works play with the two-dimensionality of painting and conceal precise art-historical references under a light guise, as it happens in Sale e Pepe, a sculpture which dialogues, centuries later, with Il sarcofago degli sposi from the sixth century BC.
Similarly, Broglio's research oscillates between the illusion of a real representation and a free imaginative association. The artist paints "living" objects on her canvases, with an anthropomorphic or zoomorphic appearance, which animate a dreamlike space. As Venetian Capricci, Broglio quotes and interprets styles that are not always declared and paints invented but realistic spaces, the result of pastiches of antiques, architectural elements and furnishings. In works such as La prima domenica del mese e La purificazione del tappeto, mysterious animal presences inhabit the interiors painted by the artist; in others, such as Il tempo dei segreti and La luce della luna, sul porco, only a few traces of the human presence remain, in a tense and perturbing atmosphere.
On the one hand, the eclectic and colorful sculptures and paintings presented in the exhibition seem to come to life like living organisms, undermining the most established epistemological beliefs about cognitivism; on the other hand, they refer to archetypes rooted in Western visual culture and in the tradition of art history and design. In an expanded home dimension, Asa Nisi Masa becomes a mirror of physical and social mutations, and suggests that every moment is potentially suitable to experience the condition of the limit between being inside the world and outside the world.
[Text: Irene Sofia Comi]
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