Embracing Mushiness

by Danilo Brunetti

A fascinating exhibit by contemporary portraitist Roberto Di Costanzo is inaugurated at the artist’s own atelier. Read on for a preview.

“This is my first exhibition which takes a break from museums and presents forms which have no roots in picture galleries.” This is how artist Nicola Samorì introduces his new exhibition, on now at the Monitor art gallery in Rome. The exhibition, bearing the title Rome (Manual for Mushiness and the Technique of the Eclipse), unveils images whose genetic code is independent from those frequently explored in Samorì’s practice throughout the past decade and strictly tied with the repertoire of past masters. For the first time, visitors will see a body of new works which may disorient them at first glance, but which, in reality, only amplifies aspects already at the core in Samorì’s previous work.

The exhibit is divided into two parts, starting with the intriguingly titled Manual for Mushiness. “Without the ghostly skeleton of the museum, the shape becomes mushy, and what is presented in the first gallery room is exactly this: a manual for mushiness. Here, the artist stages a veritable history of mushiness through a series of more than 20 works which interpret its meaning, such as a body of marble that bends until it goes limp, transforming into a folded banner, or a tongue which challenges the resistance of stone, bending to the very limits imposed by its material. This lauding of mushiness resonates in two twin high-reliefs which act as a hyphen between the two spaces of the gallery: like an opposition between positive and negative, one executed in white marble, the other in Belgian black marble.  

The second section of the exhibit, namely The Technique of the Eclipse, consists of an installation in relief that counteracts this compendium of mushiness. Fifteen paintings from Samorì’s early period are hung so as to resemble an antique picture gallery. The artist decided to “blind” the paintings through a chemical process of discoloration and darkening. Each canvas was covered with copper leaf which was then repeatedly oxidised with sulphur over numerous washes to consume the metal, revealing only a ghost of the original image. On the fine line that demarcates painting from sculpture lies the faithful translation of a palette—the one used by the artist to make some of the works in the show—into Belgian black marble. The palette’s mushiness is crystallized in the stone.

Until 26 November. Tue–Fri, 1–7pm. Via Sforza Cesarini, 43a. Tel 0639378024. monitoronline.org