Patrizio di Massimo, Stelle, 2023, Oil on linen, 200 × 200 cm
Based in London, the Italian artist Patrizio di Massimo made a radical shift from a multidisciplinary practice to painting in 2015. Since then, di Massimo’s figurative practice has focused on the relationship between painting techniques and his subjects. In particular, the artist reflects upon the idea of the portrait as a vehicle for expression as well as the representation of certain moods. Sometimes focusing on a single character, more often depicting interactions between subjects, many of di Massimo’s paintings portray characters at the height of emotional transformation, morphing them into extreme expressions of themselves and articulating paradoxical relationships between individual and collective identities.
Unveiled at Frieze London 2023, the new painting titled Stelle features a family portrait of artists Nicholas Byrne, Anthea Hamilton, and their daughter Stella. With the exception of the child, who is wearing headphones and looking straight at the viewer, the two adults are asleep on the floor, continuing an ongoing series of sleeping figures that the artist has been depicting in the last couple of years. Created in dialogue with the subjecs of his paintings, di Massimo directs the protagonists of the portrait into arrangements that capture their unique identities and their psychological relationships. A cello rests on the floor, star-print bed sheets wrap around bodies, and a cheetah stuffed animal is held tightly; all details that offer insight into the private space of domesticity, parenthood, and relationships.
The artist’s most recent exhibition at the gallery, Out Like a Light, closed on the 26th of August 2023 and included a group of new paintings featuring sleeping couples, including portraits of Zadie Xa and Benito Mayor Vallejo, Cosmin Costinas and Inti Guerrero, and Petrit Halilaj and Álvaro Urbano. This year, he opened his first survey titled Anthology (2013-2023) at the Civic Museums of Jesi and Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Jesi, comprising around 30 paintings made in a decade.