Could we even imagine the world today without the Italian art, architecture and culture? From the great richness of the Roman empire and the immense significance of sites like the Pompeii and towns like Florence, Venice, Mantua, Ravenna, Palermo, every day of the Italian history has been simply saturated with artistic influence, resulting in an extraordinary number of painters, architects and sculptors that have shaped the arts as we know them today. Their contribution to all spheres of life is unassailable, and the legacy of Renaissance masters like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael is still very much alive and well. The Italian art had also played an important role on the artistic scene of the 20th century, donning crucial avant-garde movements like Futurism, Spatialism, Arte Povera and Transavantgarde, and as such it continues to inspire new generations of up-and-coming creatives working in contemporary art today.
In this article, we put together a list of thirteen artists who have caught our attention with their unique practice, in collaboration with Matteo Mottin, the young and promising Italian curator from Turin who only recently inaugurated a new art space in the city together with Ramona Ponzini, called Trexi Galaxie, with an exhibition of works by Valerio Nicolai. We’re pleased to exclusively announce Matteo Mottin’s next curatorial adventure, in form of a joint show of artists Michele Gabriele and Alessandro Di Pietro, ready to take place in September. Entitled Giorgione and Tiziano, the exhibition is inspired by the strong friendship between the two Venetian painting masters and we’re already excited to see what Trexi Galaxie will have in store this time!
Editors’ Tip: The Art of the Italian Renaissance: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting
The Italian Renaissance is an integral part of European art and arts in general. As one of the most glamorous epochs, it has a fascinating, three-centuries long history of exceptionally prolific artistic creation that produced works of international fame such as Michelangelo s frescos in the Sistine Chapel. For this work, editor Rolf Toman gathered a team of eight renowned authors with profound expertise in the fields of architecture and art history to work with him. Taken as a whole, their contributions give us a multifaceted picture of Renaissance art in all its forms. If you’re a fan of Italian art, this publication should definitely be a part of your collection, as the ultimate word on the mat
Born in the USA in 1986, Namsal Siedlecki is a talented Italian artist and the co-founder and co-curator of Turin-based GUM Studio. He mainly works with sculpture, combining concepts that are hardly ever seen together: different states of mater, chemistries, periods in time. His art often questions itself, inviting the viewers to define it and its aesthetic criteria. These sculptures are sometimes even described as “junk installations”, as they stand hand-in-hand with fine pieces executed in marble. Since October 2008, Namsal Siedlecki has been the artist in residence at the American Academy in Rome.
Featured image: Namsal Siedlecki. Image via scuolacivicaartecontemporanea.blogspot.it
For one of his last performances, which lasted about a month, Luca De Leva did a sight exchange with his girlfriend Giacinta Gandolfo. By using a custom set of oculus rift glasses, they explored what it’s like to live another person’s life and experience it while walking in someone else’s shoes - or in this particular case, having someone else’s vision. The piece originates from Luca De Leva’s effort to connect with his disabled sister and it is an ongoing project. When he is not doing performance, the artist works with frottage, pencil drawings and sculpture. His artworks are highly popular among collectors and had also impressed Maurizio Cattelan, who exhibited them at his Family Business art space in New York City.
Featured image: Luca De Leva’s Blarney 5x3 performance at Almanac Projects. Image via almanacprojects.com
The intriguing sculptures by Michele Gabriele are often inspired by the paradoxes created by the differences between a digital image and physical works of art, focusing on the disappointment that these differences often end up resulting in. In his versatile practice, Michele Gabriele uses a variety of materials, from concrete and dog food to helmets and rocks, found objects, appliances, resin combined with soil and sugar, and much more. His art is very well received outside Italy as well - this year, he’s already had three group shows in Milan and the last one is taking place at Galeria Da Boavista in Lisbon.
Featured image: Michele Gabriele. Image via cherimus.net.
For one of his most successful exhibitions so far, Alessandro Di Pietro explored the notions of deformation, monstrosity and anomaly. The artist often questions the perceptive and analytic meaning of an image in his videos and sculptures, often taking cinema as an inspiration as well. His research is quite conceptual, deriving from extensive research, reading and lectures. Alessandro Di Pietro cites Thomas Bayrle, Daniel Buren, Mike Kelley and Bruce Nauman as the ones that have had an influence on his work, although his art is distinctly his. Recently, it’s been featured at the Swiss Institute in Rome.
Featured image: Alessandro Di Pietro - Equus Asinus n°1-n°3, 2009. Image via artribune.com
Matteo Mottin describes Renato Leotta as “a poet”, who is working with Italian landscape that is both inventive and traditional. His art often references the concept of process by citing architecture, botany, the geopolitical nature of a certain place, the ambiguity and the epic, the conditions of familiarity that can be found in a given landscape. His artworks are often accompanied by texts written by the artist himself, as a poetic caption of the visual artworks. Soon, Renato Leotta will have a show at Madragoa Gallery in Lisbon.
Featured image: Renato Leotta - six easy pieces, 2010. Image via artist’s website
Valerio Nicolai is an artist whose artistic approach is a research into the pictorial composition and the way painting can express itself beyond its own material. But for Valerio Nicolai, it’s not just about the painting, but also sculptures that often form a dialogue with his paintings within exhibitions of his work. For his show at Treti Galaxie, called Permanent Transformation of a Magician in Ant, he also created a huge canvas that covered the entire floor of the gallery, in an effort to constantly question matters of installation, its structure and the relationship to painting and space.
Featured image: Valerio Nicolai, Permanent Transformation Of A Magician In Ant, installation view, courtesy of the artist and Treti Galaxie, photo: Sebastiano Pellion Di Persano
Federico Tosi is a talented sculpture who tackles the topics of our innate and involuntary processes. His art talks about how we, as humans, often project feelings such as tenderness and love towards completely inanimate objects, without even being aware of doing it. Federico Tosi’s artworks are sometimes made of wood, glass, terracotta, resin or even plasticine, and often feature the imagery of animals, juxtaposed with human behavior in an ironic, even entertaining way. In fact, the artist often successfully manages to elicit both the feeling of discomfort and fun at the same time from his viewers.
Featured image: Federico Tosi artwork at Tile Project Space, Milano, 2014. Image via ATPDiary
As an artist who addresses the way we perceive urban landscape, Andrea De Stefani won this year’s miart fair award, the Menabrea Art Prize, dedicated to artists who are not represented by any gallery. His sculpture, entitled On the beach, 2gethr, 4eva is a hybrid of the Japanese bonkei and a tray landscape, all enclosed within a large glass box. In his practice, Andrea De Stefani likes to observe the environment around him as its critic, the landscape he encounters on a daily basis, finding an array of connections, situations and even truths.
Featured image: Andrea De Stefani - On the beach, 2gethr, 4eva. Courtesy artribune
Winner of the 2015 Menabrea Art Prize, given out by Milan’s prominent Miart fair, Gianluca Concialdi is mainly a painter who questions the limits of the medium in a visceral, “installative” way, by bringing back traditional techniques, in a constant relationship and confrontation with peculiar topics of the Mediterranean landscape. Gianluca Concialdi, whose nickname is “Giallo” (Italian for “yellow”), also often incorporates the means of science in his art through the use of different materials, at the same time exploring their provenance and meaning within different cultures and traditions.
Featured image: Gianluca Concialdi - Moodcloth, exhibition view at Ermes, 2014. Image via ATPDiary
The sculptures and installations of Luca Francesconi, existing in a strong tension between the organic and the inorganic, question how food and our nutrition choices affect our identity and environment. His art also tends to put a strong emphasis on the process of making an artwork, at the same time highlighting the importance of its meaning. Born in Mantua in 1979, Luca Francesconi had shows at important institutions such as Palais de Tokyo and had participated at the 54th Venice Biennale. In 2010, he was part of the group exhibition hosted by the prestigious Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin.
Featured image: Luca Francesconi - End of the rivers, catfish, stone, 2014. Image via progettodiogene.eu
Working with installations, photography and performance, Jacopo Miliani examines the role of clean representation systems to the cognitive and empirical processes. With a background in dance, his work often addresses choreography, dance history, club culture, sometimes through the re-use and modification of old photos and imagery from the world of art and cinema. For Jacopo Miliani, it is about the viewer’s reaction to his work, the mental condition they are in whilst looking and interacting with his artwork. He is currently based in Milan.
Featured image: Jacopo Miliani - Not with a Bang, 2015. Image via fruttagallery.com
We first encountered Matteo Nasini’s captivating artworks at the 2015 edition of Artissima art fair in Turin. His practice is as interesting as his personal story - he used to be a classical musician, as part of the Muti orchestra, but his life’s path has now taken him to the realms of contemporary art. For one of his last shows, he created sculptures which recreate the shape of a person’s dreams through brainwave patterns. Matteo Nasini’s pieces are colourful, almost child-like, often of a curious form that merges with its surrounding space in a bizarre, yet alluring way.
Featured image: Operativa Stand with works by Matteo Nasini, Artissima 2015
Within the artistic oeuvre of Giovanni Kronenberg, one can find many intriguing things that may call to mind the world’s most extravagant wunderkammern - sea sponges, a whale vertebra, a 300-year old tree root. His practice is dramatic, throwing a sharp spotlight on the ancient-like sculptures of natural forms. The titles of Giovanni Kronenberg’s artworks are just as intriguing; take Dato che invecchiare solleva il giudizio dell’impazienza della gioventù (Granted That Aging Brought Forth Good Judgement from the Impatience of Youth), as they take the viewer’s mind off what the work is really about, for just a moment. The art of this young Italian artist takes us back to some other time and question our own evolution.
Featured image: Giovanni Kronenberg. Image via studioguenzani.it. All images used for illustrative purposes only.