Herald St are pleased to present a group exhibition organised in collaboration with Stella Bottai at Galleria Spazia's Via dell'Inferno premises in Bologna, Italy—from which the show takes its title. Conceived as an intergenerational showcase of modern and contemporary works, Via dell'Inferno proposes coherent juxtapositions as much as fictitious dialogues between paintings, sculptures, works on paper and public-space interventions by the galleries' artists as well as specially invited participants.
The public display of personal attributes and entanglements forms a loose thread throughout the show, from SAGG NAPOLI's outdoor billboard series enveloping the building with mottos such as 'The personal is political—Earn it', to Michael Dean's twisted steel hearts covered by padlocks, cable ties, scene tape and food bank aids that mobilise, and in doing so monumentalise, both strength and precariousness of love. Works by Djordje Ozbolt, Jessi Reaves, Patrizio Di Massimo, Kira Freije, Amalia Pica and Nicole Wermers contribute to an accentuated figuration of the domestic space and the disharmonious relationships that potentially inhabit this dimension.
Exposure and protection, safety and vulnerability are further contrasted in Alexandra Bircken's woven close-up of Angela Merkel's resting, perhaps pensive, hands, a version of which was exhibited at the Venice Biennale earlier this year. Another well-known female figure is recalled in Marc Hundley's poster of iconic pop-singer Madonna wearing the slogan 'ITALIANS DO IT BETTER'. The performativity of body and language extends to architecture in Pablo Bronstein's drawings, which incorporate elements of satire in a commentary on ornament and taste. Counterpoint to Bronstein's fine detailing is Ida Ekblad's use of thick, quasi-gestural brushstrokes to paint images on the cusp of losing their figurative pivot and dissolving into abstract compositions.
Edgardo Mannucci's sculptures from the 1970s, born of the peculiar combination of brass, copper, bronze and Murano glass, share a deceptively unruly application of materials with Renata Boero's 1970s experimentations. Her haptic canvases bear the traces of a quasi-alchemic, chromatic research, involving pigments derived from earth and flowers. This choice of medium holds political significance for the artist in how it channels an intellectual as well as physical connection to 'simple'—that is, magic, ritualistic, healthy—natural values and human habits. The use of organic pigments takes on a sculptural dimension in Christina Mackie's work on paper, where colour itself is both conceptual tool and explicit subject. Malleable qualities of raw matter are celebrated in Nanni Valentini's mid-80s terracotta sculpture, in which motion and stillness battle to coexist.
A not dissimilar tension carries over in Markus Amm's abstract painting, whose distinctively smooth finish on the surface is disrupted by rough edges, revealing the stratification of gesso and paint. Vibrant lines and blocks of colours are collated and gradually layered in Matt Connors' abstract work on paper, here exhibited in the company of a late painting by Carla Accardi—the only female member of Italian post-war artists group Forma 1, which called for reconciling abstract art with Marxist politics—and a black and white optical acrylic on cardboard from the 70s by artist-designer Franco Grignani—who, among other things, invented the Woolmark logo.
Text by Stella Bottai. Courtesy Herad St.