Patrizio di Massimo
KURA., Milan
25 September – 20 November 2019

For his solo exhibition at KURA., Patrizio di Massimo presented a new body of works which further explores on a larger scale various themes central to his practice.

In his general body of work di Massimo sets up a vocabulary with endless combinations of information and references: from Renaissance painting, through Mannerism and the late nineteenth century French artists, to the icons of contemporary photography, to unidentified images found on the web, to an archive of personal drawings and photographs. Di Massimo creates an imaginary world in which he anachronistically seems to draw on past traditions. Images are made which have the challenging appeal of an advertisement, with their firm tone, vibrant colors, plentiful details and story-telling.

Clad in clever irony and classic elegance, Patrizio di Massimo’s paintings become paraphrases of a much larger world in which the artist inserts himself, friends, family and acquaintances. His characters leave the studio and the mind of the artist to confront the real world – no longer a plain representation of themselves, but main actors, the interpreters of their own life and defined identities.

At KURA., the self-portrait that welcomes the viewer entering the show, Self-portrait as abstract painter (after Annie Leibovitz), depicts the artist posing as the American actor Steve Martin in front of a work by Franz Kline, a photograph made in 1981 for the cover of Rolling Stone and a pop expression of the cult of personality. A self-portrait as an icon acts as a polar counterpart to the more intimate representation of the self, no longer in first person but reflected in his daughter’s eyes. Diana (6 months) reciprocates her father’s gaze in wonder, as if in a conversation to find out about each other.

Prussian Love and Bauhau are a continuation of the “quarrel series” which the artist started in 2018. The dynamics within a couple’s relationships are metaphorically represented here by Alan Prada and Fabio Cherstich and by Goshka Macuga and Nabil Bouhir. Two distinct and contrasting environments, a luxurious brocade room and an artist’s studio, act as backdrops for the bodies in their clashing for emotional survival.

Another couple, in this case two women, intertwines in a twist on the typical representation of a medieval theme, the damsel-in-distress saved by the knight. Epico Cavalleresco (After Joseph Paul Blanc) updates a scene etched in the patriarchal collective memory, in this case the story of Ruggiero and Angelica as painted by Joseph Paul Blanc in the second half of the nineteenth century.

History, in the classical sense, gives way to a plurality of stories told by invented characters, friends and family of the artist’s, in a kaleidoscope of intertwined glances and bodies. In Untitled (Green Triptych), one catches in the background a glimpse of a detail taken from a work by Balthus (The Street, 1933), a controversial artist who explored the line between voyeurism and representation. Di Massimo does not give up either of these practices, simultaneously being the main character and the author of the triptych.

To a vision of the world so rich in angles, imperfections, timbres, and devoid of any possible objectification, Patrizio di Massimo’s pictorial clarity seems to respond as a magnifying glass capable of looking into the folds of reality. It is work that amplifies, highlights, and seems to scrutinize without judgment. The cathartic effect of the gaze impressed on the canvas can only highlight a perfectly imperfect world, which includes desires, feelings and inclinations that the artist brings to the surface. The representation thus becomes an allegory of contemporary human, a character with a thousand faces à la Pirandello, who similarly to an interpreter is able to play different roles and offer the viewers the possibility of choosing their favorite.

Modified text from KURA

Prussian Love, 2019
oil on canvas
180 × 180 × 3.6 cm
Bauhau, 2019
oil on canvas
200 × 160 × 3.6 cm
Untitled (Green Triptych), 2019
Oil on canvas
Left and right: 230 × 130 × 3.6 cm
Center: 230 × 180 × 3.6 cm
Epico Cavalleresco (After Joseph Paul Blanc), 2019
Oil on linen
230 × 180 cm
Installation view
Diana (6 months), 2019
Oil on canvas
70 × 50 × 2.5 cm