CARNIVAL - Matthew Monahan, Luigi Ontani, Zhao Gang
July 13 —September 09, 2017
Massimo De Carlo is pleased to present Carnival, an exhibition with works by artists Luigi Ontani (Grizzana Morandi, Italy, 1943), Zhao Gang (Beijing, China, 1961) and Matthew Monahan (Eureka, California, US, 1972). The three artists are known for practices that are extremely different from one another, yet all three encompass and explore the mythological and the fictional, decadence and futuristic optimism, the popular and the niche. Each artist, through different mediums, investigates the multi-facet perspectives and shades of the human being, both as a figure and as an existence, as faces and as masks.
Italian artist Luigi Ontani uses the self as the starting point of his research drawing inspiration from his own image and body and creating allegorical, biblical and folkloristic figures. Brightly tinted wooden sculptures representing devilish, carnivalesque creatures inspired by the artist frequent travels in Asia, are paired with the drawings that inspired them, highlighting the process of transforming paper into the three-dimensional.
Matthew Monahan’s golden sculpture masks are the result of violent and raw creation process, where the gesture is key and underlines the precision of human hands compared to machines. Each mask is composed like a metallic origami, the artist folds the sheets of metal, that appear weightless yet hefty, and that addresses the idea of figuration. The artist’s gesture of transforming materials into anthropomorphic shapes introducing a dynamic narrative that questions classicism, industrialism and futurism.
Chinese painter Zhao Gang presents a series of eerie and colourfulcanvases, where each character portrayed has his or hers face concealed by a mask. In between Western and Eastern traditions, each painting recounts a tale of identity anxiety. The simbology and meaning of the mask, and its powers, is explored encompassing Chinese tradition and Western classicism through the traditional medium of painting.
The exhibition evolves through an array of concealments and faces, bodies and shaper that are charged with rhetoric and a multiplicity of meanings. Luigi Ontani trades his image with the appropriation of different and exotic character types and roles, creating enticing sculptural works, while Zhao Gang infuses traditional Chinese compositions and imagery to produce an uncanny series of portraits. Matthew Monahan, through the evocation of the classical, creates contemporary creatures made of aluminium and gold leaves, embodying the cold aesthetic of technology and the nostalgia of mythology.
Carnival is an exhibition that challenges our perception of ourselves, asking us to reveal and confront the various masks we use to adapt to different situations, how flexible are we? How many different versions of us exist?