NATURE VS NURTURE, a group show with David Casini and Mat Collishaw among others
NATURE VS NURTURE is the latest group exhibition of FaMa Gallery and it presents new works by David Casini, Mat Collishaw, Patricia Piccinini, Barry Reigate and Sissi.
The exhibition opens on Friday 8th June through to 28th July 2012.
Nature vs Nurture. This dichotomy – between an individual’s natural features, those antecedent any influences coming from society and education, and what, on the other hand, moulds him and derives from the context in which the individual himself develops – has been the centre of scientific debates for a long time, in particular between the end of the XIX and the beginning of the XX century, and has produced a large number of studies on the innate or environmental origin of physical and behavioural traits of man. In recent times academics have been turning their attention back to this dichotomy again, mainly in humanistic fields.
The exhibition NATURE VS NURTURE moves from this ample and complex debate to investigate the work of five artists who analyse – though with different techniques and approaches – the scientific method so as to get possession of its assumptions and objectives. But at the same time they examine the consequences – even in politics – that the ideas of evolution and progress may have in the definition of a modern society.
David Casini – whose artistic practice is particularly focused on a careful research of materials – meticulously selects, elaborates and gives new shape to the objects and elements – both natural and artificial, and with a strong symbolic value – of his works. Casini’s installations, which seem to represent his private imagery, are permeated by a light nostalgic feeling and they appear like fragments of a suspended, silent and solitary time. In his recent work Déjà Vu, three vintage mirrors duplicate and dematerialize some objects – both mineral and organic – hanging in front of them thanks to thin brass structures, thus recalling the symbolic value of the mirror as the possibility of the double and establishing a strong emotional tension with the viewer. This tension is mainly given by the constantly changing perspectives from which the viewer can follow this game of visual references.
Venal Muse, the new series of photographs by Mat Collishaw, on display on occasion of this exhibition, starts from a tribute to Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal. As the French poet’s poems are centred on such themes as decay and erotism, in the same way Collishaw’s flowers, genetically modified, marked by wounds and sores, seem to be suffering from an unstoppable decay which causes the loss of their beauty and seems to be inevitably caused by man. By evoking the atmospheres of the Renaissance studiolo, the artist presents, through these images, a sort of spectacularization of scientific experiments, investigating the seduction exerted by beauty and its corruption.
The research of the Australian artist Patricia Piccinini starts, on the other hand, from a deep interest in such important themes as genetic engineering, bioethics and biotechnologies and it is characterised by the use of different artistic languages, painting, installation and video. Piccinini’s creatures – familiar and disturbing at the same time – are made of silicone, fiberglass, human hair and clothes that make them astonishingly realistic and they play on the register of ambivalence: on the one hand, their appearance and the pose in which the artist seems to have caught them by surprise communicate a feeling of familiarity and closeness, on the other, when the viewer is in front of these weird creatures, he or she cannot but wonder about their origin and if they are aliens or they belong to a future in which – maybe – we all will be living soon.
The artist places the viewer in front of the genetically modified hybrid and – without expressing any judgment or opinion – she urges the viewer to wonder both about the limit and the relationship between the natural and the artificial and about the reaction resulted from meeting something unknown and different.
In his new series of works, Barry Reigate explores the relation between the shape and what is conceptually projected onto it. This investigation is carried out with a highly critical analysis and through the use of simple geometric shapes taken from decontextualized diagrams contained in the questions of children’s school math tests. His paintings are characterized by a language containing repetitions of geometric forms that look back, play on the aspirational ideologies /aesthetics of modernism, but that, at the same time, empty themselves, through, an evacuated kind of brutal ornamentalism. Taking the forms from an academic and translating them to a cultural context, Reigate plays on our cultural assumptions and social-political aspirations as a kind of dormant test that sees former orders collapsing and questioning what that language, the school test, might be still used for. Through the work Reigate teases with ideas around the social-political and plays with the links between social and physical structures, education and labour, culture and play.
By putting her ideas through an ironic but absolutely precise analysis and scientific catalogation, which results in an extremely disciplined, almost obsessive artistic practice (every element is hand-made), the Bolognese artist Sissi creates a paradigm along which she makes experiments that give origin to sculptures, installations and performances strictly linked to her personal past life – but also about universal themes – constantly in search for new places or bodies where to live, proliferate or sprout.