Rome, a head-to-head between different artists at Mucciaccia Gallery

From May 9 to July 6, 2024 Mucciaccia Gallery presents in its Rome location the exhibition Tête-à-Tête, curated by Catherine Loewe, an exploration of the world of some famous pairs of artists in which love, life and art making merge in mutual pursuit.

From May 9 to July 6, 2024 Mucciaccia Gallery presents in its Rome location the exhibition Tête-à-Tête, curated by Catherine Loewe, an exploration of the world of some famous pairs of artists in which love, life and art making merge in mutual pursuit.

Tête-à-Tête unfolds as a passionate tale in a close comparison of the works performed by the protagonists: Sue Arrowsmith & Ian Davenport, Nick Carter & Rob Carter, Charlotte Colbert & Philip Colbert, Rossella Fumasoni & Piero Pizzi Cannella, Emilia Kabakov & Ilya Kabakov, Carolina Mazzolari & Conrad Shawcross, Annie Morris & Idris Khan, Shirin Neshat & Shoja Azari.

The “head-to-head” suggested by the title results in an unusual look at the dynamics behind the relationships between artists who share private and professional lives and how this conditions the practices of individuals, whether they work individually or collaboratively.

Catherine Loewe, curator of the exhibition, describes a very diverse reality: "Although relationships can be fertile ground for creativity, they are not without challenges, requiring a high degree of tolerance and compromise, particularly when it comes to navigating the creative process, between the demands of a hectic international exhibition schedule and the needs of a family. The times may not be the same, but today’s artists are following in the footsteps of pioneering couples such as Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, whose often tumultuous lives played a key role in the development of avant-garde art."

Sue Arrowsmith(Lancashire, 1950) and Ian Davenport(Sidcup, 1966) met at Goldsmith College in London in the 1980s. For this exhibition they created a number of works that dialogue with each other. Sue’s recent use of gold leaf and Ian’s exploration of Italian Renaissance art led to a fusion of approaches, inspired by early icons and the paintings of Beato Angelico.

Nick and Rob Carter, born in the United Kingdom in 1968 and 1969, respectively, met as teenagers at school, only to meet again 10 years later and begin working together in 1998. Their 25-year collaboration and marriage continues to push the boundaries of new technologies, drawing on the rich heritage of art and history, and using video, 3D printing and robot painting for their works. On display are six works executed four-handedly with robot paintings, including portraits from the After Botticelli series, a portrait of Andy Warhol, and a reworking of Giorgione’s Venus of Dresden.

In the incredibly prolific output of Charlotte(Paris, 1987) and Philip Colbert(Scotland, 1979), well evidenced by the house in which they live filled with paintings, sculptures, objects and furnishings, one can see that spirit of resourcefulness, discovery and passion that only an avant-garde couple can share. Charlotte and Philip met 15 years ago, while she was writing a screenplay about Nietzsche, during a visit by both of them to the philosopher’s home in Switzerland. This is the first time the two’s works have been exhibited together. In the exhibition, Charlotte’s sinuous steel sculptures flank Philip’s painted lobsters on canvas, establishing a dialogue between modern surrealists.

Rossella Fumasoni (Rome, 1965) and Piero Pizzi Cannella(Rocca di Papa,1955) met in 1988 and married in Foria d’Ischia in 1997. They share a love of poetry, art and painting. As Rossella says, "We are bound by 35 uninterrupted years: 12,775 days and nights, endless passionate discussions and a son, Arturo, born in 1998." Facing each other in the exhibition are two large visionary canvases, one for each artist.

For some, a shared life means expressing one’s creativity as one voice, and it is touching to hear Emilia Kabakov(Dnipropetrovsk - USSR, now Dnipro, Ukraine 1945), who last yearyear last year lost her husband Ilya (Dnipropetrovsk - USSR, now Dnipro, Ukraine 1933 - New York 2023), after 35 years of marriage, talk about how they were “one,” critics, companions, lovers, friends and alter egos. On display are two ceramic sculptures The Eternal Emigrant and Golden Apples and The Flying # 3, a large tapestry, in which figures appear, drawn with an accurate and gentle stroke, hovering in the air above the roofs of houses.

Carolina Mazzolari(Milan, 1981) and Conrad Shawcross (London, 1977) met in Oxford in 2001 and then met in Venice in 2011. They live and work in London’s East End, in a loft that formerly housed an animal taxidermist and even earlier a Victorian stable. The building is both a home and an industrial-scale studio, where they create their deeply poetic, philosophical and abstract works. The exhibition features Carolina’s sewn textiles that, juxtaposed with Conrad’s geometric steel sculptures, suggest the duality of yin and yang, balancing two opposites that are the expression of an indivisible union.

Annie Morris’s (London, 1978) use of raw, vibrant pigments has over the years encouraged Idris Khan(Birmingham, 1978) to experiment with a more colorful palette. They met in 2009 at an exhibition opening in London and married the following year in France, intertwining their practices and giving impetus to much of their current work. The enormous respect, devotion and support the artists have for each other serves as a catalyst for their work. In the exhibition, Annie’s multicolored spheres are juxtaposed with Idris’s densely layered abstract works.

Shirin Neshat(Qazvin, Iran, 1957), whose poetic research examines the feminine in society and particularly in her homeland of Iran, is a pioneer of the new role assumed by women in art, now untethered from the figure of the companion to whom, in the past, she was subordinate and subject. Her close collaboration with fellow Iranian filmmaker and artist Shoja Azari(Shiraz, Iran 1957) has resulted in an award-winning body of work, including video installations, feature films, and a multimedia theater performance. They first met in 1997, when Shirin asked Shoja for help in making the video Turbulent. On display is Idyllic Life a video by Shoja Azari from 2012 and the painting made C_Print with ink and acrylic paint by Shirin Neshat From Land of Dreams series.

Completing the exhibition are portraits of the couples taken by Iranian photographer Maryam Eisler who, through the lens of her own camera, captures and amplifies the subtle relationship that exists between each pair of artists.

Accompanying the exhibition is a bilingual (Italian and English) catalog published by Silvana Editoriale, with a critical text by curator Catherine Loewe, photos of the works in the exhibition and Maryam Eisler’s portraits.

For all information, you can visit Mucciaccia Gallery’s official website.

Rome, a head-to-head between different artists at Mucciaccia Gallery
Rome, a head-to-head between different artists at Mucciaccia Gallery

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