ITALIAN ART invades Mumbai

Italian art is synonymous the world over with names such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael. While Italian artists of the last few decades have received some exposure around the world and especially in Europe, their work continues to be relatively unknown in India. “Made in Italy”, a group show at Sakshi Gallery, Colaba, attempts to change that and introduce to India three Italian artists of three different generations.

The title may lead one to believe that the emphasis of the show lies on Italy as a geographical location, but that is exactly what it is not. “Made in Italy doesn’t underline the artists’ geographical origins, but recalls that sense of universality essential in the language of images,” says Caterina Corni, the show’s curator.

"The Happening Beyond the Time" by Antonella Aprile

“The Happening Beyond the Time” by Antonella Aprile

A group show for all practical purposes, the manner of arrangement of the works goes a long way in introducing three artists relatively unknown to the city’s art fraternity. “I wanted to use the rooms to create three separate solo shows and the hall to create one group show,” says Corni, of her arrangement. As one enters the gallery and walks into the hall, one is greeted by a view of three very different styles of painting. On the wall facing the viewer — divided into two by a doorway leading into a room — are works by Antonella Aprile and Azelio Corni, on either side of the doorway. Clearly visible through this doorway is one by Giovanni Frangi. The rest of the walls in the hall display works by all three artists, in no particular order.

A very well-known artist in Italy, this show brings Frangi’s work to India for the first time. In all his work, the underlying theme is nature. It is, however, a greatly abstract representation of nature. Contrary to what we have grown to expect, there isn’t a hint of green in any of the large-scale paintings. “Frangi likes to work mostly with black on white canvas and white on black,” Corni says.

In the room on the left is a video-animation with an Indian connection. Created by Aprile, the youngest artist in the show, The Happening Beyond the Time shows Lord Shiva performing the Tandava whilst telling viewers about the quantum theory. Interestingly, this is something Aprile has been working on for a few years and was not created especially for this show. By it, however, the 33-year-old artist does attempt to “create a connection between the East and the West — Italy and India”.

The only artist of the three to have previously showcased his work in India — in 2005 in Mumbai — the primary concern in Corni’s work is the exploration of the various mediums he uses as opposed to the subject. Having started out working on paper, canvas and plastic sheets, he has also worked with wood, metal and even artistically recreated a regular sari. This specific artwork was received with much interest in Italy and was sold soon after it was first displayed. For this show, however, the 64-year-old artist has created a series of works on felt, using primarily black and bottle green colours, barring one that is strikingly red.


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