Nicola Samori is an Italian sculptor, painter, and printmaker whose melodramatic images are based on 17th-century neoclassicism. Through the shock caused by mutilating the surfaces of these copied Old Master images, or through the depicted subjects being brutally tortured, Samori deconstructs the idealism of ancient Greece and the Renaissance.Read More
Samori studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, and has been exhibiting his provocative works since 1998.
Nicola Samori is known for several approaches to making his theatrical and disturbing two- or three-dimensional images, the latter through wax or carved marble, the former through supports of copper sheets or wood and peeled back semi-dried oil paint. See for example, Kazimir (2010) and Destino dell' Occhio (2011).
He specialises in a form of aggressive baroque art that humiliates the neoclassical tradition exemplified by 17th-century Old Masters in the Netherlands and Bologna. Samori ridicules those civilised painted images by turning them into objects of pity or revulsion, as evidenced by Seer (2011), Agnese (2009), June 27 (crowned) (2014), and Ciclope (2020). It is an emotional and physical attack on the cumulative weight of art history pressing down on contemporary European artists, believing in the power of 'irresponsibility' and 'wounding' to hit back—a retaliation in search of freedom.
The wounding is assisted by his admiration for modernist artists like Lucio Fontana and Alberto Burri, who are known for 'mutilating' basic painting support materials, and also his interest in moulage, where he creates hideous skin diseases or injuries. Sometimes he also removes the faces of portraits from other supports and attaches them flipped over on to new heads to create voided 'holes' as in Il veleno nelle ombre (2010).
These works can be seen as an attack on a specific period of art, or they can be more widely interpreted as a ferocious dismissal of all types of art, sweeping the whole concept of art practice to one side. In this way, these works reject not only art but also anti-art, including themselves.
Like, for example, the photographer Joel-Peter Witkin or the sculptor Adriana Varejão, Samori occupies the Grand Guignol corner of the contemporary artworld—with its interest in shocking, and deformity and body parts—an area related to the grotesque.
Samori received the 9th Cairo Prize, Palazzo della Permanente in 2008 and the First Prize in the Giorgio Morandi Engraving Prize in 2002.
Nicola Samori has been the subject of many solo and group exhibitions.
Solo exhibitions include Nicola Samori, Monitor, Rome (2021); Nicola Samori: Sfregi, Palazzo Fava, Bologna (2021); In Abisso, Galerie EIGEN+ART, Berlin (2020); Black Square, Fondazione Made in Cloister, Naples (2020); Cannibal Trail, Yu-Hsiu Museum of Art, Nantou, Taiwan (2019); Malafonte, Galerie EIGEN+ART, Berlin (2018); Nicola Samori, Quadriennale di Roma, Rome (2016); Nicola Samori, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2016).
Group exhibitions include Inspirations from the Ancients, Rosenfeld, London (2021); Masters from Europe, Aki Gallery, Taipei (2020); The Last Supper After Leonardo, Fondazione Stelline, Milan (2019); 5th Biennale Gherdëina, Ortesei, Italy (2016); 56th Venice Biennale (2015); 54th Venice Biennale (2011).
Samori's work is held in the Taylor Art Collection, Denver, Colorado; Fondation Francès, Senlis, France; and AMC Collezione Coppola, Vicenza, Italy.
Nicola Samori's website can be found here.
John Hurrell | Ocula | 2022