In Piena Crisi: Frontiers of Italian Art [In Full Crisis: Frontiers of Italian Art] is the latest edition of Italy at Frieze, an exhibition held within the Italian Ambassador’s residence during Frieze London from 2019.
Italy at Frieze aims to showcase artists born/living in Italy or holding Italian citizenship who are represented by galleries participating in the art fair. Featuring artists from the young contemporary Italian scene, to heavyweight historical figures from Surrealist or Arte Povera traditions, In Piena Crisi attempts to challenge, interrogate and complicate what it means to be Italian today while displaying artists’ insistent efforts to push the frontiers of their art.
The exhibition marks the celebrations of “One year of BeIT”, the campaign in support of the Made in Italy brand launched by the Italian Minister of Foreign affairs and International Cooperation in 2021. “Italians have always possessed the ability to look ahead and project their ideas in an ever-changing landscape. Call it perception, talent, a passion for ideas, or planning skills. Creative industry is, in fact, a natural consequence of this forward looking attitude” says the Ambassador to the UK, H.E. Inigo Lambertini.
“With this exhibition, we aim at showcasing the best of the Italian creative industry. Through the artists selected and the series of collateral events organised, the Embassy celebrates the success of the BeIT branding initiative, showing the most innovative, diverse and groundbreaking creations of modern and contemporary artists, as a form of expression, but also as a way of doing successful business.”
“Art creates shared languages, facilitating contact between people and culture, people and territories, people and mother earth, even in difficult times” continues the Ambassador. “With a variety of codes and techniques, Italian artists express the creative spirit that is so often associated with our country, making country, making the Made in Italy brand so unique and successful.”
From an iconic and colourful abstraction by Carla Accardi, to a bold figurative amalgamation of classic iconography with contemporary concerns by Jem Perruchini, the exhibition’s breadth is truly spectacular.
Curated by Sofia Gotti, the project borrows its title from Lucia Marcucci’s work, In Piena Crisi [In Full Crisis]. Marcucci, made poesia visiva [visual poetry] her core expressive language as co-founder of the Gruppo 70, active in Florence between 1963 and 1968. The titular collage crops images of water aerobics exercises alongside a portrait of a fully made-up woman whose manicured hands hold a nondescript photograph of War, probably in Vietnam. The collage’s tagline “without peace / Italy: in full crisis” captures Marcucci’s strategy to juxtapose images and text drawn from the mass media – her battleground for socio-political critique. Like Marcucci, the trailblazing graphic designer Armando Testa ran one of Italy’s largest ad agencies at the height of his career, while championing social battles such as the referendum for the legalisation of divorce in 1970.
Within the broader framework of Italy at Frieze which aims to represent “Italy,” In Piena Crisi establishes a tension between the works on display and national identity politics, a recurrent theme in the exhibition. Works by Argentinean Leonor Fini, who spent decades in Italy, call into question the relevance of national belonging as a central member of the transnational Surrealist movement. In her drawings on display we see an intriguing yet highly personal self-portrait that culminates in the artist’s unique combination of humour, eroticism, and mythological symbolism. Similarly, Austrian born artist Greta Schödl, another pioneer of poesia visiva in Italy, insistently repeats letters and symbols until they are abstracted, frayed within the texture of language.
Thriving on the dialogues that emerge across this broad selection, the exhibition captures each artist’s efforts to push the limits of their practice, whether from the perspective of socio-political critique, or a formal investigation into the materiality of their chosen medium and practice. With larger than life depictions of female body parts, Adelaide Cioni explores certain visual codes relating to the representation of the gendered body: one of the frontiers to consider in the current cultural and political climate. Abstract shapes and bodies of colour contract and expand in her canvas, saturating the room and soliciting a visceral response in the viewer. Ultimately, the exhibition offers us the opportunity to engage with art’s capacity to put in crisis, and at times reshape, the contours of accepted cultural, social and political orders. The frontiers to consider today, and within this exhibition, include the urgent cultural and political issues of the climate crisis, the call for decolonisation, and ongoing disputes around gender equality and civil rights.
Carla Accardi, Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Adelaide Cioni, Dadamaino, Tano Festa, Leonor Fini, Lucia Marcucci, Giulio Paolini, Jem Perucchini, Lucia Pescador, Greta Schödl, Marinella Senatore, Armando Testa, Francesco Vezzoli
A cura di Sofia Gotti.
Italy at Frieze, Italian Embassy in London, London (UK)
13.10.2022 – 16.10.2022