Vanni Cuoghi at the Civic Aquarium of Milan with the exhibition Submariner

Titled 'Submariner,' Vanni Cuoghi's new solo exhibition is scheduled at the Civic Aquarium in Milan from July 14 to September 12, 2021. Featuring 16 recent works by the Genoese artist.

From July 14 to September 12, 2021, theCivic Aquarium of Milan, an Art Nouveau building located at the entrance to Parco Sempione, between Castello Sforzesco and theArena, will host Vanni Cuoghi ’s (Genoa, 1966) exhibition project entitled SUBMARINER.

Curated by Nicoletta Castellaneta and Ivan Quaroni, the exhibition will be developed in two stages, the first from July 14, 2021 with an exhibition of the artist’s works and the second with a large installation on Captain Nemo from Jules Verne’s novels, which will open on September 3, 2021.

The overall project is promoted by the City of Milan - Culture and the Civic Aquarium and organized by Opera d’Arte, with support from Colombo Experience.

The initiative is part of the billboard of La Bella Estate di Milano, the program of exhibitions designed by the City of Milan for the summer season.

The exhibition presents 16 recent works, many of them unpublished, whose subjects draw inspiration from the seabed and the creatures that inhabit it, in a constant cross-reference with the place that hosts them, enhancing the history and heritage of the Milan Hydrobiological Station.

Following his most characteristic stylistic signature of surreal, ironic, dreamlike quotations, enriched by mysterious elements, Cuoghi uses the elements of the underwater world as a pretext to represent a dark landscape, or rather the dark side of the landscape. Using illustrations of fantastic places Cuoghi takes the visitor on a journey within a metaphysical landscape that has taken on the features of a real environment. Such is the case with the ink on paper that reproduce in their anatomical perfection sea creatures, be they giant octopuses, sperm whales, whales, anglerfish, swimming above ocean bottoms consisting of iconic alpine peaks such as Le Grand Combin, Mont Blanc, and the Giant’s Tooth.

The exhibition tour continues with a series of oils on canvas, in which the citation of the architectural aspect or the large painting (2 meters x 3 meters) where the symbolic references are very strong.

“Often Vanni Cuoghi’s works,” says Ivan Quaroni, “take the form of real narrative boxes, three-dimensional boxes in which his alienating landscapes are compressed within a rigidly codified frame that reproduces the stage of a miniaturized theater. In this object painting, made not only of graphic elements but also of collage and carved paper, the artist crystallizes the apex episodes of an open narrative, susceptible to multiple interpretations.”

“The paradigm of Cuoghi’s paintings,” declares Nicoletta Castellaneta, “is mostly the concentration of worlds that disclose other worlds in a seemingly realistic narrative, in a painting that touches our sensitive experience and at the same time holds back its mystery, leaving the viewer on the threshold. Invited to enter Cuoghi’s ’world of worlds’ that enclose the infinite, everyone can get lost or find a way to reread the real through appearance.”

The second part of the exhibition, which will open on Friday, Sept. 3, in the days leading up to the Salone del Mobile, will feature a huge three-dimensional diorama, in real size 1:1, which will recreate with painted furniture elements, be they the desk, armchair, or furnishings, the ideal study of Captain Nemo, the mythical commander of the submarine Nautilus, born from the imagination of Jules Verne, who made his first appearance in the novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Visitors will become an active part of the work, walking inside this room, as if inside a theatrical backdrop, whose porthole will open directly onto one of the Aquarium’s tanks to reinforce the belief that they are among ocean waters.

In making this installation, Vanni Cuoghi, whose biography recounts experiences as a set designer, emphasizes how “Invention is in the staging, not in the pictorial representation. I like to recreate an ephemeral landscape that lasts the ’click’ of a photographic shot and prolong with painting the memory of what has been.”

A graduate in scenography from theBrera Academy in Milan, Vanni Cuoghi has participated in numerous biennials in Italy and abroad, including the St. Petersburg Biennale (2008), the Prague Biennale (2009), the 54th Venice Biennale, Corderie dell’Arsenale, Italian Pavilion (2011) the 56th Venice Biennale, Collateral Italia Docet (2015) and the Italy-China Biennale (2012) and has, in addition, participated in public exhibitions at Palazzo Reale in Milan (2007), theHaidian Exhibition Center in Beijing, on the occasion of the XXXIX Olympic Games (2008), at the Liu Haisu Museum in Shanghai (2008), at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Permm, Russia (2010), at the Castello Sforzesco in Milan (2012), at the Fabbrica del Vapore in Milan (2015) and at the Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium Museum in Norway (2018). His works have been exhibited in several Italian and international fairs such as Frieze(London), MiArt (Milan), Artefiera(Bologna), Scope(New York), Off(Brussels), Daegu Artfair(Korea), KIAF, Seoul (Korea) and Bank (Hong Kong). In 2012, commissioned by Costa Cruises, he created eight large paintings for the Costa Fascinosa ship and, in 2014, six for the Costa Diadema.

Since October 2015 he has held the chair of Painting at theAldo Galli Academy in Como.

Public solo exhibitions include in 2011 Novus Malleus Maleficarum, at San Pietro in Atrio and Pinacoteca di Palazzo Volpi in Como; in 2013, Aion at Musei Civici Cremaschi in Crema; in 2016 Da Cielo a Terra at Museo Ebraico in Bologna; and in 2017 The Invisible Sun, at Museo Francesco Messina in Milan. In late May 2019, he opened The eye of the Storm, at Rossi-Martino Gallery in Hong Kong, and in October, Esuli pensieri at Fondazione Balestra in Longiano(FC). July 2020 saw the solo exhibition Apnea curated by Elisabetta Sgarbi and with the support of M.Ar:Co at the Argenterie in the Villa Reale in Monza.

For all information, you can visit the official website of the Milan Civic Aquarium.

To learn more about the artist, you can find his official website here.

Pictured: Vanni Cuoghi, Ocean Backdrops 2 Kraken (Giant’s Tooth, 2021), 62x46 cm, acrylic and India ink on paper

Vanni Cuoghi at the Civic Aquarium of Milan with the exhibition Submariner
Vanni Cuoghi at the Civic Aquarium of Milan with the exhibition Submariner

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