Roberto Cuoghi. PERLA POLLINA, 1996 – 2016

Roberto Cuoghi. PERLA POLLINA, 1996 - 2016Image courtesy of MADRE Museum 

Roberto Cuoghi. PERLA POLLINA, 1996 – 2016
27 May – 18 September, 2017
The Madre museum

 

The Madre museum in Naples is the only Italian venue of the first midcareer retrospective devoted to Roberto Cuoghi (Modena, 1973), one of the most enigmatic, mysterious and fascinating Italian artists of his generation. Cuoghi’s artistic practice brings together the sculptural and compositional qualities of the visual arts and the scenic-narrative qualities of a performer and storyteller. His unique paintings, sculptures, photographs, installations, videos and films, sound works and performances use partly unconventional techniques and materials, which the artist often experiments with and even reinvents.

 

Roberto Cuoghi. PERLA POLLINA, 1996 - 2016Image courtesy of MADRE Museum 

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They explore the notions of the simulacrum and the symbol, memory and immanence, devotion and superstition, transformation and metamorphosis (of the body, identity, language and the forms themselves of representation and expression). There are references to antiquity and the history of humanity that, despite being based on rigorous philological and documentary research, are also remolded by the artist with highly idiosyncratic results, in which temporal, spatial and epistemic planes merge together. Right from its nonsensical title (generated by chance due to the erroneous effects of an auto-correct program), PERLA POLLINA, 1996-2016 presents itself as an exploration of the inventive and productive dynamics adopted by the artist. They are marked by an ascetic obsessiveness, the immensity of “allout” research strategies.

 

Roberto Cuoghi. PERLA POLLINA, 1996 - 2016Image courtesy of MADRE Museum 

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In the pursuit of a result verging on the impossible, not knowing when to stop becomes the prerequisite for inventing new formats of experience, behavior and knowledge, and therefore for the creation of works in which theses research strategies are taken to the limits of recognisability of the components themselves or of the processes by which they are conceived and created. Renowned for his legendary transformation at the age of 25 into a man of 67 years old, Cuoghi uses his body not as an element of performance but as a preliminary vector for the works he is going to make. The importance of anthropotechnic processes of preparation, organization and research, just as the perpetual experimentation, the processual learning, the systematic breaking of pre-defined rules and codes would remain constants of a radically selftaught artistic practice. He experiments with materials and techniques, invents original solutions and examines unusual methodologies capable of taking on and coping with the highest level of indeterminacy possible, since it is essentially based on the rejection of a method. A nihilistic yet impassioned “doing without knowing how”, in which each work is like the last, or the first.

 

Roberto Cuoghi. PERLA POLLINA, 1996 - 2016Image courtesy of MADRE Museum 

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The artist reflects as well on the interpretative vacuum created between the image we have of ourselves and the image that others have, like the vacuum between what we are and what we could have become in taking different decisions. Impatient with the interpretations of his work made by the art system, Cuoghi undertakes in this way a series of Autoritratti (“Self-portraits”) that restore the potential variations of his own personality among numerous possible incarnations: a young gangster, a spoilt child, a pretentious intellectual, the portly middle-age founder of the Dannemann cigar factory. Cuoghi’s skepticism of the art system, indeed his aversion to it, is also manifested in a series of Ritratti (“Portraits”) of artists, critics, curators or collectors (the latter ones done on commission) who the artist portrays, with an irreverent punk spirit, covered in wounds, bruises, mutilations or even with a severed head or as putrefied bodies half-buried in the earth, eventually becoming unrecognisable.

 

Roberto Cuoghi. PERLA POLLINA, 1996 - 2016Image courtesy of MADRE Museum 

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The exhibition presents and interconnects, for the first time, the main cycles of the artist’s works. They are interpreted almost as if they were independent universes, obscure and feverish systems that apply only to themselves, like a language that, paradoxically, was spoken by only one person in the world. As the critic and curator Anthony Huberman writes in the catalogue accompanying the exhibition: “A radical thinker, Roberto Cuoghi constantly chooses the uphill battles. In the face of Western culture’s preference for the beautiful and the flawless, he chooses the mutilated and the deformed; in the face of the art industry’s fascination with the new, he chooses the out-of-date; in the face of our respect for those who have survived, he chooses to celebrate those who have gone extinct.”

 

more. www.madrenapoli.it

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