In Milan, Monica Bonvicini's solo exhibition with works on mirror

From March 30 to August 6, 2022, the Raffaella Cortese Gallery is hosting Monica Bonvicini's solo exhibition entitled Pleasant: intended to express the discomfort associated with living within domestic walls.

Galleria Raffaella Cortese in Milan is hosting the exhibition Pleasant, a solo show by Monica Bonvicini (Venice, 1965) in all three exhibition spaces from March 30 to August 6, 2022. This is the artist’s third solo show at the gallery and again the works on display reflect on language, literature and the construction of identity through the perception of space and intellectual work.

A new series of mirror works brings back quotes and texts by female writers, focusing on the discomfort related to relationships and living within domestic walls. The six mirrors on display at Via Stradella 1 feature phrases painted directly on their surface. Mirroring themselves, they give life to a cacophony of overlapping voices, capable of transforming space into a labyrinth of references and echoes. These works materialize the trilingual poetry of stateless writer Amelia Rosselli as well as the ruthless and poignant words of contemporary short story writer Diane Williams and the fundamental reflections of Sylvia Plath.

At 4 Via Stradella, five elaborate mirror prints enclose other quotes, other words connected to life within the four walls of the home. The coated mirrors feature muted hues, from copper to milk white, colors taken from a portrait of Virginia Woolf taken by Gisèle Freund. After the writer agreed to receive Freund at her home to have her portrait taken, she wanted her clothes to echo the interior design; one of these photographs taken hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London, and depicts Virginia Woolf sitting next to a desk with a stack of books, holding one open in her lap and holding a cigarette in her other hand. A mural by Bell & Grant can be seen in the background. It is from this photograph that Monica Bonvicini drew the colors of the mirrors. The quotations are cruel, harsh, and in total contrast to the glossy perfection of the works, from which the words seem to emerge. The phrases in these works are those of contemporary writers known for their raw and uneasy narratives: from the Native American poet Natalie Diaz to the relentless Lydia Davis and again the refined and scathing words of Diane Williams.

The theme of domestic environments and their discomfort is also inherent in the series of sculptures on display at 7 Stradella Street. The light works StripLight (2021), hanging from the ceiling, are the only source of illumination in the dark space. There is also a silent installation: two tables covered with heavy woven cloths of black leather men’s belts, Belt Cloth #1 and Belt Cloth #2 (2022).

On the wall, four leather textiles, Don’t Throw in (2022), hang from hooks that pierce the weave. All of these “textile” sculptures are held together by sturdy black bolts or decorated with lacquered silver and black binder screws. The installation evokes the heaviness of the routine imposed by the domestic environment in which creativity seeks to emerge while working from home. Woven leather belts recall the weight of a masculine culture reduced to a surreal tablecloth, weighing down desks, shaping a sense of constant agitation and impatient apprehension.

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Image: Monica Bonvicini, Vanity (2022; painting on mirror, 150 × 100 × 3.6 cm) View in the artist’s studio, Berlin, 2022.

In Milan, Monica Bonvicini's solo exhibition with works on mirror
In Milan, Monica Bonvicini's solo exhibition with works on mirror

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