After eight years in the making the Art Quadriennale, established in 1927, the only exhibition devoted to contemporary Italian art, is back in Rome. It’s composed of ten exhibition sections curated by eleven diverse curators, selected via an open call, featuring ninety-nine artists including one hundred and fifty artworks, sixty of which were produced specifically for this event and the rest in the past two years. Consequently the event is conceived as an ever-changing map of the artistic and cultural production of contemporary Italy.
Amongst these hundred and fifty works, all the languages of contemporary art are represented: there is sculpture, painting, photography, and video art, along with performance art. By offering a variety of views there is something to be appreciated by all visitors. The themes examined in the different rooms of the Palazzo delle Esposizioni include exploration of the portrait, the transformation and rebirth of objects, as well as space and time in relationship with the rural. There is much storytelling in all the works on display, but the narrative form asserts itself the most in the video installations, many of whose themes speak of migration, a motif present in many works of present day contemporary art.
There are a number of shows that demand much of the spectator’s attention thus distinguishing themselves amongst the others. Michele D’Aurizio’s curated exhibition, entitled, Hey, you! for example, uses the self-portrait to explore both the social sphere and the individual; it was not the concept itself that was innovative, however the installation of the show was done with such elegance and self-reliance that it exhibits the curator’s work at its very best.
In another room, there are sculptures by the young artist Nicola Martini, which stood out as one of the strongest works throughout the exposition. With the initial viewing from afar, her sculptures looked like beautiful marble slates – yet upon closer inspection, they revealed their synthetic nature of silicon rubber and wood. These marvelous works were curated by Luca Lo Pinto, the editorial director of Nero magazine as part of “A occhi chiusi, gli occhi son straordinarimente aperti,” which approximately translates into “ when eyes are closed, they are surprisingly open.”
The largest and possibly most ambitious show was curated by Matteo Lucchetti who confronted the question of post-rural Italy with intellectual ambition. The works on display take a look at how this new context has altered identities and social dynamics. This exhibition features works by a number of internationally renowned artists such as Adelita Husni-Bey and Rossella Biscotti. How successful he has been in carrying out this theme in a coherent manner can be debated.
The real success of the exhibition has been in its ability to bring to the forefront not only a panorama of artistic practices in Italy but also the efforts of some of the best and brightest young curators and art writers in the country, most of which were born in the late 1970’s to mid 1980’s.
Despite the fact that some of the rooms feel over-curated and bombarded with works of art so that it becomes difficult to say who is who and what is where, there are many fantastic works waiting to be discovered.
The exposition conveys many unknown yet nevertheless noteworthy contemporary Italian artists whose works are both profound and thoughtful, thus revealing the many talents living and creating in today’s Italy.
Till January 8 2017
Palazzo delle Esposizioni
Via Nazionale 194
Open Sun, Tues–Thurs, 10am–8pm; Fri and Sat, 10am–10.30pm. Closed Mon.
Entry fee: €10, reduced €8