|22 March 2017 to 13 May 2017
|The Flat - Massimo Carasi
|Tuesday - Saturday 14:00 - 19:30 or by appointment
Via Paolo Frisi, 3
Set to coincide with Miart, Milan’s international fair of modern and contemporary art, and Salone del mobile, Matter Matters is a group exhibition at Milanese gallery The Flat-Massimo Carasi inspired, as its name suggests, by the Minimalists’ focus on the materiality of their works. Eschewing a narrative basis for their work, the four Italian and international artists on show have chosen instead to concentrate on forms and materials.
Curated by Claudia Contu, the exhibition brings together four artists that seem to espouse, or at least acknowledge, the main characteristics of Minimalism: a preference for sleek geometric forms, the importance of materials, often of industrial nature—which also references the ethos of Russian Constructivism, another characteristic that seems to link the selected artists—and the determination to erase the distinctions between painting and sculpture. And indeed, through observing the artworks of Fabio Lattanzi Antinori, Jonny Niesche, Leonardo Ulian and Jonathan Vivacqua, it becomes apparent that there is more than first meets the eye: canvases gradually acquire sculptural depth, prints burst into singing and sculptures redact themselves to two dimensions.
The preeminent role of the materials is nowhere more evident than in Italian, London-based artist Leonardo Ulian’s “canvases”. Made out of lead sheets sewn together, Ulian "paints" them over with thread to create a circuit-board-like texture and coloured sand to form very precise geometric lines and shapes, the use of sand being a tribute to the Buddhist sacred tradition of creating and destroying mandalas—a practice he continued from his previous series aptly named “Madalas”. The juxtaposition of the materials and forms, drab lead versus brightly coloured sand and sketchy thread lines versus sharp, rectilinear shapes, induces a meditative experience which, as Ulian suggests, “generates inner images actively through the minds of the viewers”.
Whereas Ulian uses soft materials on hard surfaces, Australian artist Jonny Niesche does the reverse, superimposing steel rectangular tubing on voile canvases, to similarly captivating effect. Niesche’s technique involves spray-painting mesmerizing colour gradients reminiscent of James Turell’s works, which immediately draw you in, while adding clearly marked lines of steel that define a space that you are asked to populate or look beyond. His largest work on display, “Undersong” (vor Dunst) (2015), inspired by David Hockney’s "Pool with two figures", scrubs down Hockney’s painting to its basic spatial arrangement, replacing the rest of the setting with an enchanting sunset.
Sharing the same subtle complexity, Italian, London-based artist Fabio Lattanzi Antinori’s graphic artworks look like bizarre, giant printouts, but are in fact visual representations of very precise financial data sets. His most impressive piece, “Dataflags” (2014), visually documents Lehman Brothers' collapse by tracking its daily share price for ten years up until its bankruptcy, transforming the data into a visual graph screen-printed onto a 2.4 by 1.4 meter sheet of Somerset paper. Hanging from the gallery ceiling like a dystopic flag of corporate hubris, it also confirms the virtuous relationship between mathematics and beauty. What's more, concealed under the layers of black ink, printed sensors, when touched, trigger a selection of financial data operatically sung by a soprano.
Undoubtedly the exhibition’s most impressive piece is Italian sculptor Jonathan Vivacqua’s spiral arrangement of aluminium profiles painted in black, descriptively called “General perimeters upstand trims aluminum, Armstrong” (2015), which dominate the gallery and invites visitors to re-calibrate the space though their vertiginous, vortex-like geometry. Other pieces by the same artist on display are a tall, multi-coloured stack of insulating panels inside a Plexiglas tower that looks like a slice of geological strata and plasterboard canvases that have been scraped in a seemingly arbitrary fashion, which, similarly to the rest of the artworks featured in Matter Matters, tacitly capture the visitor’s attention with their visceral materiality and unfolding shapes.