The title of the exhibition, About Genres, refers to the subversion and reinvention, in a contemporary key, of the traditional genres of painting. They were established by the French Academy, created under the rule of King Louis XIII in the 17th century, and included historical, mythological, portraiture, landscapes and still-life genres.
The Academy established a hierarchy according to which those artists that were considered the most gifted were allowed to accept commissions for the genres at the top of the hierarchy (historical and mythological), the less gifted were allowed to be commissioned the less prestigious ones (with still-life at the lowest level of the hierarchy). Today this hierarchy does not exist any longer, even if genres are still relevant, and not only in painting. The exhibition features three artists who reinterpret genres today, both formally and conceptually.
Manuel Esnoz was born in 1974, and currently lives and works in Madrid. Over the years some procedures became constants in his production. Appropriations and extractions, such as those of using and mixing “connect the dots” games, paint-by-numbers (famously appropriated by Warhol), Ben Day dots, halftones, the grid, palette and iconography of the “Escuela del Sur” and Torres Garcia. The sources were in almost every case found images that existed and functioned in the real world, like mainstream pornographic magazines, advertising images from billboards and magazines, newspaper images, and the history of art. In some of his recent works featured at the exhibition, the artist continues with the appropriationist strategies not only “borrowing” or “quoting” from the history of art at large, but more specifically from himself: In particular, in the work Eternal Afternoon (with Lonely) (2023) Esnoz uses again, after twenty years, the “connect the dots” games that characterised his oeuvre in the 90’ and the figures come from an old drawing that he found when he recently moved from New York to Madrid (Sin Titulo, 1996). So there are at the same time, different levels both of appropriation and of a sort of recycling of his own production, and a deconstruction of the genres in painting that renders them almost unnoticeable, however present.
Saori Hasegawa (born in Tokyo, 1992. Lives and works in Tokyo) states about her practice: “When drawing, I focus on each part of the landscape rather than the overall perspective. As I draw the colours that I noticed on the screen, the sections gradually overlap, and when they overlap, they disappear. The main motifs are plants and landscapes. Plants are drawn by looking at living things, and landscapes are drawn from photographs taken and stored. The landscape is gradually composed as I look at the motifs at different times and draw them.” The mind is not always in the here and now, sometimes it is in the past or in future, and consciousness seems to be far away. Such phenomena are common in everyday life. When someone is in a daydream, a landscape of sorts comes to life. And it's a landscape we can't fully grasp. Hasegawa calls such a landscape a “maigo no fuukei", a lost landscape. For the artist, there is a contradiction in the idea of visualising a lost, or invisible landscape, nonetheless she is always aware of its existence and of the possibility of exploring its essence through painting. Hasegawa makes the “maigo no fuukei" to work as an apparatus for daydreaming for the viewers. As the viewer (and the artist) looks at it, her consciousness goes to another place, and eventually it becomes a landscape in itself.
Lobo Velar de Irigoyen was born in 1978, in Buenos Aires and lives and works in Buenos Aires). His work is a playful attempt to explore the intimacy of everyday life in a state of constant discontent, and to pose questions regarding communication problems and conflicts of interpretation, of desire, of the traps of memory and of the passage of time. Velar uses cut-outs from his personal photos and chooses those the pieces that tell a story. Tables and bouquets are elements that often repeat in his compositions reminding of a loose interpretation of a still-life composition. He draws and paints with different materials that make up the scene, accepting error as a human gesture. Very much like in the analytic moment of Cubism, even if Velar works tend towards abstraction and a deconstruction of the classical perspective, his compositions are always anchored to reality by at least one recognisable element, like for example in Porque uno solo se realiza sucesivamente (2021), the green table.
Corso di Porta Ticinese, 87