Exhibition of photographs – Gaggenau: Francesca Piovesan — S-Compomposizioni
Beyond photography. In Rome, Francesca Piovesan’s skin mosaics reveal who we really are.
For the first time, Gaggenau and Cramum are preparing to host a personal exhibition in Rome devoted to Francesca Piovesan, an artist who has become a key figure on the international contemporary art scene thanks to her artistic singularity which combines photography without a camera, body art and sculpture. The exhibition S-COMPOSIZIONI (DE-COMPOSITIONS) will be open until March 8 and will focus on the artist’s development from photographic glass to new photographic works without a camera, called “Aniconic”.
As the curator of the exhibition, Sabino Maria Frassà, explains, “lost in today’s world of images, we struggle to understand who we are and how we should bring together the countless fragments of our being that we have accumulated over time. Francesca Piovesan’s works go beyond photography. She makes the investigation of the body and its shape the keystone of her artistic research, aiming to capture and represent the human essence in constant evolution. According to the artist, it is impossible to uniquely define and represent who and what we are. The essence of being lies in understanding and accepting the dynamism and transformation that we experience and can see on our skin. Her new cameraless photographs are mosaics of skin that reveal who we really are. The photographic approach is the common denominator of Francesca’s art. Photography, especially photography without a camera, is intended as an investigative tool. The silver nitrates that bring the famous artist’s photographic body impressions to life should be seen as a tool to freeze organic elements and life in time.
All of Francesca Piovesan’s new pieces are square in shape. The dimension is equal to the surface of the artist’s body, generally represented in full length shot, American shot, medium shot, medium close-up, close-up or very close-up. For example, the size of the first piece in this series, equal to 44 square centimeters, corresponds to the epidermal area that could be represented as a medium close-up portrait. The artist transforms the idea of a personal portrait into a universal image of the human body. In fact, the whole human essence can be seen in the body fragments that are part of this portrait.
Since his remarkable series of “Specchianti” glasses, created five years ago, the artist returns with a new series of “mosaics” and “decompositions” in which the epidermis is the starting point to continue the investigation of who we really are. This series of pieces will launch a strong element of discontinuity in the poetics of Piovesan: the decomposition of the human figure in the work. According to Piovesan, representation has always heralded misinterpretation, since the artist depicts the human body through techniques that involve the collection and processing of organic elements, such as salt and fats, extracted from the epidermis. The procedural aspect is important, but it never matches the ultimate meaning of the work, so it cannot be considered traditional body art. The body is only the starting point of Francesca Piovesan’s art. Although she constantly questions herself, the artist controls the work, in which she combines the unpredictability of bodily matter with her artistic, conceptual and narrative intention that manifests itself in a strong compositional precision.
This new series of works was born from the investigation of the relationship between composition and decomposition. The artist used a technique she developed years ago, consisting of photographically processing imprints left by the human body on an adhesive tape. Then the adhesive tape, after capturing the epidermal salts and fats, is processed like a photographic film. Later, the reaction of silver nitrates produces a kind of “photographic impression” of the body. The artist used to collect these results on paper or glass, recreating the original part of the body. Therefore, in all these works we could see the human figure: a face, a chest or the whole body, as in the huge work “Frammenti” (2020).
While suffering from Covid-19, Francesca Piovesan took advantage of her period of isolation to completely recreate this technique, trying to meditate on what her body was going through and what her true “form” was. There is a strong and pervasive tension towards abstraction seen as a tool to make human experience universal and to go beyond our body as we see and represent it. The artist notably meditates on the increasingly ambiguous role of photography and images in our society. She, by taking photos of our skin, proves how we are not what we seem, nor how we represent ourselves in endless, hyper-realistic selfies and altered images. It seems that contemporary society contributes to spreading a pornography of images and a sort of grotesque idolatry of an idealized and unreal human body which shows itself in all its conceptual weakness in these works. Unsurprisingly, in “Scomposizioni” (“Decompositions”), the artist has decided to abandon the reconstruction of body images to break them down into fragments, conceived as veritable pieces of “skin mosaics” with geometric patterns. Trying to recall cubism, since there is no roundness, these pieces tell a revolutionary and “real” representation of the human body and of who we are: endless nipples, eyes and signs of time on the skin are recomposed and exalted in perfect geometries. The artist was inspired by Judeo-Islamic mosaics and optical labyrinths by Maurits Cornelis Escher. Breaking down the image of our body leads to a new order, a universal representation of the human being who finds his essence in his constantly renewed transformation. Unlike previous works, “Mosaici/Scomposizioni” (“Mosaics/Decompositions”) can go beyond the “simple” investigation of our body in an instant, to reveal how everything and the universality of our being can be found every moment. We do not see a body, nor its representation, but the essence of what we are: a matter in constant evolution which tends towards infinity.
The series of works “Mosaici/Scomposizioni” (“Mosaics/Decompositions”) is the product of Francesca Piovesan’s artistic maturity. His return to the order typical of the mature phase of artists is a path of growth through abstraction, or better, the transcendence of the human figure. The artist creates a new order by managing to complete this inductive journey started with the “Specchianti” series, from the representation of his subjectivity to the representation of the universal essence of our existence. We are witnessing a new aesthetic harmony, a troubling existential calm that invites us to go beyond the first impression. Admiring these mosaics makes us realize, once again, that we are pieces of an endless mosaic, and we are not always able to understand its complete geometric shape. We are fragments of a collective memory of which we are inevitably part, since we are the victims and the authors of an irrepressible change, it is our true essence.
Jung said, “Who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakens”; while Pirandello said “what we know about ourselves is only a very small part of who we are”.
Is it possible that Francesca Piovesan’s mosaics can help us in a maieutic way?
Francesca Piovesan — S-Composizioni
Organized by Sabino Maria Frassa’
Lungotevere de centi 4, Rome
November 22 – March 8, 2021 (closed at Christmas from December 24 to January 6)
Open Monday to Friday with greenpass and by reservation: [email protected]
International press officer and translator: Elisa Ottolini.