The Agony of Actaeon: First UK solo show for Italian Lanfranco
rosenfeld porcini is proud to present The Agony of Actaeon, the inaugural UK solo exhibition of the Italian artist Lanfranco Quadrio.
The exhibition will include mixed media works on canvas and paper across both floors of the gallery space. Using materials such as acrylic, charcoal, graphite, ink, pencil, pastels, and oil paints, the pieces presented recount moments deriving from two well-known Greek myths, the death of Actaeon and the myth of the monster Scylla – in particular when she devours Odysseus's sailors:
"the goddess [Artemis] flung the hide of a stag around Actaeon, arranging for him a death that came from his own hounds"
– Pausanias 9.2.3 (Greece c. AD 110 – AD 180)
"they writhed gasping as Scylla swung them up her cliff and there at her cavern's mouth she bolted them down raw— screaming out, flinging their arms toward me, lost in that mortal struggle"
– Homer (The Odyssey XII 275-79)
Born in 1966, Lanfranco Quadrio is a draftsman and engraver whose highly accomplished, complex and dynamic drawings fuse the ability of the Italian Old Masters with a highly personal contemporary vision. Quadrio's obsession with the world of Greek myths and his extraordinary technical ability transports the viewer back to the golden epoch of Italian drawing. Yet the violence present in the works, his experimentation with colour and lines on the canvas immediately returns us to our contemporary world.
From a narrative viewpoint, what intrigues Quadrio in the myths are the moments of violence. When the hunter Actaeon sees the Goddess Artemis (the Roman 'Diana') bathing naked in the water, she transforms him into a stag and he is then devoured by his own hounds. As this punishment is ordained by the Goddess, the hounds are forced into this act of violence. Furthermore, it is the violence of a group against the single. In contrast, during Renaissance times a more traditional subject was the moment when Actaeon sees Diana bathing naked surrounded by her nymphs. For Lanfranco the work becomes a way of commenting on the violence of the mafia run boats which carry Africans, from their birthplaces of famine and uncertainty, to the promise of Italian prosperity. Similarly with his depicting of Scylla, it is the moment of violence and transformation which obsesses the artist: instead of the sailors being eaten by the monster, it is his imagined portrayal of the men falling towards the sea.
Beyond depicting animal and human anatomy with a surgeon’s attention to detail, Quadrio's compositions are emotionally charged works which provide a poignant testimony to the violence which undermines our world. What begins as an illustration of a moment from a great, timeless story develops into a comment on both the human condition and the inevitability of violence.
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