DPI – Darkness Per Inch is a two-artist show by Mustafa Sabbagh and Milena Altini. The title hints at the chromatic domination of Black in the work of the artists showing at Galleria Marcolini, from 6 february until 19 march 2016.
Mustafa Sabbagh’s pictures have a painterly materiality and physicality, embedded in a traditional, nearly religious composition. The Italian-Jordanian artist portraits contemporary Madonna con il Bambino and Vesperbild groups, whose dirty bodies, soaked in a thick petrol pigment, pulse despite the immobility of their poses.
A blonde woman, whose name we know – just as Francis Bacon revealed the identity of the people he portrayed in his famous hotel rooms, Sabbagh shows the names of his models in the titles of his files – holds a toll for vaginal-dilation as a weapon. It reminds us that body and battle are often synonyms, and that pain and suffering are structural and often gendered conditions.
Sublime landscapes and romantic natural contemplations are shown along with aesthetically-impudent and provocative portraits. Innocence and awareness. William Blake and Bill Henson.
Equally innocent, independent from any judgment, and similarly aware, powerfully enveloping on themselves, Milena Altini’s Waiting Souls constitute a sculptural group of perfect souls, bonded in their unity of forms and objectives. Lamb and calf leather’s strips, sacred or sacrificial depending on the latitude of their origin, move spirally and climb over. Altini climaxes various nuances of black, which correspond to the different dermas of her souls, paying tribute to an immense soul made up of thousands of them, on the furrow of a seam such as of a contingent, yet incomprehensible, necessity.
Through the language that mostly befits her: sculpture. Pronouncing the words she knows best: leather’s ones. Touching strings known to all mankind, but most of all to every single woman - who knows well what ‘waiting’ means. Berlinde de Bruyckere and Eva Hesse.
Besides the chromatic reference, what links the two artists is obviously the body, or – citing Malaparte – the skin, livid body and evocative material, and – paraphrasing Bulgakov – the meat, whose sweeping smell makes futile even the act of reading.