Bologna, collections compared at the Lercaro Collection with works by great Italian contemporaries

From May 5 to Sept. 18, 2022, the Lercaro Collection in Bologna presents "Cross Collection": works by great Italian artists from a private collection are measured against those in the Collection.

In Bologna, from May 5 to September 18, the Raccolta Lercaro is hosting the exhibition Cross collection. Collections in comparison, an exhibition curated by Leonardo Regano and Francesca Passerini that brings together a selection of works by contemporary artists from a unique private collection, formed since the 1990s, in dialogue with the museum’s collection. Cross collection. Collections in comparison refers to one of the most widespread trends in contemporary collecting, but also already present in the one put into practice by Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro, initiator of the Bolognese collection: to go beyond classifications, conventional paths and easily evident relationships in order to search for new and deeper meanings through the unprecedented juxtaposition of apparently distant works.

What results from these unusual dialogues is an intense network of relationships that reveal themselves to the gaze of the observer in ways that are more or less explicit, immediately or gradually, but in any case capable of broadening the breath of reflection by opening it to multiple suggestions. This is how, by breaking the patterns of exhibition classifications and juxtaposing different works, unexpected thematic, visual and conceptual intersections are generated: as much today, in the contemporary collection on display, as yesterday, in Lercaro’s very modern work.

The exhibition is divided into five main sections that address specific themes: the body, the portrait, still life, languages and some reflections that touch on the ethical and social sphere, with particular reference to the delicate aspect of migration. The first area, the human body, is developed starting from the entrance where, in relation to the mirror-installation that Nanda Vigo designed for the museum in 2016, the public is greeted by Sissi ’s woven wire nest-utero and, a little further on, by Flavio Favelli’s mirror work, which returns to the observer the reflection of his or her own image while at the same time becoming the gateway to an introspective journey.

Then on the threshold between the physical and the psychic is Kiki Smith’s delicate work, Lying on Clouds, which on a large, light paper veil outlines the evanescence of a female body absorbed in the abstraction of thoughts and symbolically floating on clouds. Next to it, Vanessa Beecroft ’s work brings back the emphasis on the physical, carnal dimension of human life, observed in the detail of bodily elements rendered in a graphic synthesis that evokes Art Brut suggestions and finds relation with Ilario Rossi’s large Circus. Adam Gordon closes the circle: his disproportionate female figure is juxtaposed with Vittorio TavernariGiorgio Andreotta Calò ’s large Calvary draws a bronze casting that eternalizes the trace of the dramatic precariousness of the material.

From the body, attention is increasingly directed toward theanalysis of the self and of one’s inner universe, making use of the possibilities offered by the portrait: Francesco Gennari, Vedovamazzei, Esko Männikkö return different visions and perceptions of the self that become spokesmen for the diversity of thought and approach to life, all equally bearers of meaning. A further step in the reflection on man’s expressive potential is offered by the theme of communication, which implicitly encapsulates the central one of relationship. Neïl Beloufa addresses it through an installation that unifies and coordinates different languages, from the narrated and heard word to the image. Rosa Barba uses thousands of typographic letters to create in print, on the whiteness of linen, an imperfect circle that symbolizes the inexhaustibility of knowledge and becomes a generator of new semantic dimensions while reflecting on the creative process that leads to the genesis of the work of art.

The same theme, although approached in different ways, also belongs to Giulio Paolini’s great work: Vis-à-Vis (Amazon) (2), whose title connects well to the concept of confrontation/connection at the basis of the exhibition, proposes a reflection on the gaze by inviting everyone to question their own way of being in reality and seeing it. Invitation taken up and developed by the work of Eva Marisaldi, centered on the vision interpolated with the elements brought by interferences and filters, including cultural ones. While the work Tuono by Mario Airò is entrusted with a kind of visual magic that, with delicate lightness, projects the gaze into a visual dimension made of pure essentiality and capable of giving rise to a new consciousness. Finally, the individual gives way to the collective dimension that broadens its scope to include the gaze on nature.

The first thematic area is addressed through the “social” works of Margherita Moscardini, Luca Vitone, Francis Offman, Mario Dellavedova, and Francesco Arena. The common thread among them all are the themes of migration and man’s overpowering of man, but Francesco Arena’s work presents an additional semantic dimension that places it within a special relationship with the city of Bologna. Through a large hole created in the marble through the constant, repeated writing of names, he narrates the painful emptiness generated by the absence of all those who lost their lives on August 2, 1980 in the Bologna train station massacre. A seemingly simple but explosive marble, laden with deafening meanings. Then, in the center of the room, Adel Abdessemed ’s video opens in which a black boy is washed with milk: a very powerful image of overwhelm and non-acceptance of diversity, the work is symbolically placed in relation to the Cross of Color created in 2010 by Ettore Spalletti for the Lercaro Collection. Two images both played on color, which, depending on the heart’s capacity for acceptance, takes on meanings of exclusion or inclusion: in Spalletti, in fact, the colors become mediators of the relationship between the gaze of the observer and the You represented by the Cross, while in Abdessemed they become a reason for discrimination.

The last section, finally, makes explicit the relationship with the surrounding environment, hardly played only on the acceptance and acceptance of nature, but always characterized by man’s desire to intervene on it, interpolating it, governing it, managing it according to his own feeling. Today, through the possibilities offered by technology, the artist becomes an expressive interpreter of this desire. Anna Franceschini and Stefano Arienti resort to the potentialities of photography: the former to give life to a contemporary surreal still life, immersed in muffled and suspended atmospheres; the latter to recompose the image through human intervention, entrusted to the ritual gesturality performed by the hand that moves needle and thread. Monica Bonvicini draws on photography to translate it, with the powerful liquidity of watercolor, into a large work capable of telling the eye how the violence of a hurricane can transform an urban landscape into desolating still life. And underscoring this thin boundary between genres come the works by Giorgio Morandi, Filippo De Pisis and Giuseppe Santomaso belonging to the Lercaro Collection.

Giuseppe Gabellone proposes an intermediation between the natural and human worlds through the use of epoxy resin while Nico Vascellari and Micol Assael play on the anthropization of nature, largely reshaped through human ingenuity. To remark once again how the relationship between man and nature has always been one of the fundamental themes for art because it mirrors thought on the value of life. Provided that the question posed by Giuseppe Chiari is valid and art is still recognized as having a cathartic power for existence, “If this is art you are crazy.” And it is known, madness can change the world.

The exhibition opens Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3 to 7 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 14 during Arte Fiera and ART CITY from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., June 2 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. Free admission. For information visit the Raccolta Lercaro website.

Image: Giulio Paolini, Vis-à-Vis (Amazon) (2) (2019, canvas, two plaster sculptures, white bases, 160 x 240 cm)

Bologna, collections compared at the Lercaro Collection with works by great Italian contemporaries
Bologna, collections compared at the Lercaro Collection with works by great Italian contemporaries

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