20.04 – 13.05.2011
SILVIA ARGIOLAS ELENA RAPA – Season of the Witch
a cura di Roberto Fantoni
‘When I look out my window, Many sights to see.
And when I look in my window, so many different people to be.
When I look over my shoulder, what do you think I see?
Some other cat looking over his shoulder at me’
Donovan Leitch, 1966
Galleria Antonio Colombo presents an exhibition by Silvia Argiolas and Elena Rapa, after the success last fall of the two retrospective solo shows Little Circus. The show is curated by our good friend Roberto Fantoni, a great connoisseur of many facets of art, literature, rock and countercultures, companion and mentor of a tribe of young artists that gravitate around the gallery. The title comes from the famous song by Donovan Season of the Witch, a hypnotic “cult” piece of timeless psychedelic charm.
What mysterious thread links title, music, lyrics and these young artists? Probably the skill and aptitude to make the mind travel out of and into itself, undertaking daring, even reckless explorations while remaining physically still. Probably the knowledge of how to look and see beyond, elsewhere, into the hidden, the soul, the spirit. Or it is a simple association of ideas and emotions that creates an alchemy capable of freeing the imagination and expanding the mind. The world of Elena Rapa explodes in fantastic representation, while that of Silvia Argiolas implodes in its dramatic inner focus.
The gaze of Elena Rapa is that of a mind-altered Pinocchio melancholically adrift in a contemporary, nocturnal toyland populated by anthropomorphic, mutant plants and animals. Its counterpart here is the symbolic and expressive art, with archaic overtones, of Silvia Argiolas, from which a strange dream world emerges in which serenity seems to be denied and the subjects, like aggrieved souls, establish a dialogue with primordial elements in pursuit of an unstable balance.
Silvia Argiolas was born in Cagliari in 1977. She lives and works in Milan. Main solo shows: Rainbow Wrong, Fondazione Durini, Milan, cur. S. Fabbri, I and I, Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea (Little Circus), Milan, cur. M.C. Valacchi, 2009 Magica Arborea, Galleria Tubegallery, Milan, cur. I. Quaroni. 2007 Lullaby, Galleria Capsula, Rome, cur. S. Elena and E. Olmetto. 2006 Seed, Galleria Studio 20, Cagliari, cur. R. Vanali. Main group shows: 2010 Christmas Rodeo, Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea, Milan, cur. A. Colombo; Forward_Rewind, Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea, Milan; 2009 Biennale giovani Monza 09, Serrone della Villa Reale (Monza), cur. I. Quaroni; Overture, Galleria San Salvatore, Modena, cur. I. Quaroni. 2008 Whaleless, Strychnin Gallery, London, cur. G. Cervi and Res-Pira; Allarmi 2008, Caserma De Cristoforis, Como, cur. I. Quaroni, A. Zanchetta and A. Trabucco. 2007 Creepy, Galleria K-Gallery (MI), cur. I. Quaroni; Fiabe crudeli, Museo Man, Nuoro, cur. R. Vanali. 2006 Finalist Premio Celeste. 2005 Man Ray 1995-2005, Centro Culturale Man Ray, Cagliari, cur. M. Cosseddu.
Elena Rapa was born in Fano in 1978. She lives and works in Lucrezia di Cartoceto (PU). Main solo shows: 2010 Al fuoco al fuoco, Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea (Little Circus), Milan; Cime di Rapa – Illustrazioni biologicamente selezionate, Teatro Puccini, Florence. 2009 Teste di Rapa, Ortobotanix, Bassano del Grappa (VI), cur. M. P. Pace; Graffa Fanzine, double solo show with Laura Giardino, Piscina Comunale, Milan; Lucilla’s Corner, Galleria Mega+Mega, Arezzo, cur. M. Puleo; Overture, double solo show with Giorgio Rubbio, Galleria SanSalvatore, Modena, critical text by A. Zanchetta. 2007 Chambres Noires, Rocca di Sassocorvaro (PU), critical text by A. Flevin. 2005 La morte di Mr. Coniglio, Barcode, San Benedetto del Tronto (AP), cur. Maicol & Mirco. Main group shows: 2010 Christmas Rodeo, Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea, Milan, cur. A. Colombo; Infart 2010 – Hello Nasty! Indoor exhibition, Castello degli Ezzelini, Bassano del Grappa; Art Shake Festival, cur. E. DeNotaris, MondoBizzarro, Rome; Forward-Rewind, Galleria Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea, Milan. 2009 Final group show – Circuito Giovani” SPAC Pesaro, Pescheria, Pesaro; Focus Italy – Italian Newbrow, cur. I. Quaroni; Prague Biennial, Prague; Godart, Museo Laboratorio di Citta Sant’Angelo (PE), cur. E. De Leonibus; Segni De Andrè, Museo di Santa Chiara, Cosenza, cur. V. Mollica. 2008 Inside Nostalghia, by DCG and Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Dorothy Circus, Rome; Pinta! Paint on fishing boat, in the Pop-Up event, Molo Mandracchio, Ancona, cur. MAC; Allarmi, Caserma de Cristoforis, Comom, cur. I. Quaroni, A. Zanchetta and V. Trabucco; Magdaleine, AndreaArte, Vicenza, cur. A. Zanchetta; Overview, Circolo Culturale e Comunale Fatebenefratelli di Valmadera (Lecco), cur. I. Quaroni. 2007 Lilliput, with Vanni Cuoghi and Enzo Forese, Galleria Little Italy, Milan, cur. I. Quaroni; Arte italiana 1968-2007, Palazzo Reale, Milan, cur. V. Sgarbi; Dopamine, Studio Cannaviello, Milan, cur. I. Quaroni.
IT’S ALL RIGHT MA, IT’S ONLY WITCHCRAFT
by Matteo Guarnaccia
Everywhere they extract love potions,
A charm against pain is sought:
Pellets, ribbons and fingernails,
Small roots, grasses and tender sprouts,
Two-tailed lizard serves as a lure,
And the neigh-sayers’ charms as well.
Having cast off from dream’s moorings, the sailing is not always smooth. Even, or above all, when it is a daydream, eyes open, pupils dilated. The pale canvas of the sail becomes that of the painting and is then transformed into the sticky web of the spider. It may be infested by disturbing, cumbersome emanations of the psyche, colonized by chromatically suspect settlers of dubious origin.
When you least expect it the vessel of rationality capsizes and the black tide of the unconscious sucks everything back into its depths. In the meantime, with a distressing German accent, the words of Dr. Freud echo in the air, as in the guise of any worried mom he scolds the toddler Jung who seems to take mucho gusto in splashing in that liquid, fully dressed, without waiting to have digested his lunch. The dream apnea can last as long as a nap, or be scientifically extended at will by professionals in this field, as in the case of these two lively Italian maidens of the provinces, Silvia Argiolas and Elena Rapa.
Through them, the housewife from Voghera proves she still has plenty of secrets to be told. The most surprising of which is that over half a century of forced cultural integration reinforced by massive doses of alien (Japanese-American) imagery can evaporate like a drop of water on lava in the powerful breath of the Great Mediterranean Mother, when that wind resumes its blowing. So the occupation has not yet been completed. Wedged in the midst of Facebook, Photoshop, manga, Hollywood, TV commercials, trends, comics and pop music, ancestral shades remain, chubby and content, indefinite, deformed, formless (never conforming) forms and spirits hatched in our part of the world by agricultural-pastoral as well as hunting cultures. They maintain intact all of the brash arrogance and rustic nerve they possessed before being transformed into elegant divinities. They are proud survivors who demand attention. Odors of brimstone and garlic, pummarola and manure, wet hay and catarrh, soft clay and beeswax, rosa canina and roast lamb, hairballs and sea wind, juniper and braying asses (hopefully golden ones!). It is spicy zero-kilometer painting cooked up in the domestic pantry, full of special herbs, ingredients past their use-by dates, definitely not in compliance with EC standards, various paraphernalia from radioactive flea markets, furry animals that are not exactly pets, crossings between bestiaries and herbaria. Unlike their timid contemporaries ensnared by facile poptones, saccharine appeal and neon pinkishness, Silvia Argiolas and Elena Rapa continue, with courageous recklessness, to spend time in this ancestral world that demands strong stomachs and minds. The roam far and wide in a feverish, Panic environment that takes its time, in slow gestation, hosting not yet fully human presences, aged and overweight embryos, wizened, toothy fetuses, impaired larvae and plants, boundless aching bladders, grim uterine suggestions, wretched lemurs, amusingly curious minors afflicted with hypertrichosis, organic materials it would be advisable not to investigate, mentally unstable and incontinent organisms that vomit like South American curanderos, and bleed like Christian saints in baroque sacristies, and in greater abundance. Furthermore – a detail of no negligible importance, as demonstrated by a variety of bruises and skin conditions – they are ready to pick on each other as soon as we look the other way. They all have cracks, cavities, rents, wounds, holes, ulcers from which – without possibility of recovery – unknown waves of suffering or reserves of energy emerge. It is a world that encourages waste, bulimic excess, senseless experiments, impossible recipes, free-for-alls from which you emerge (when luck is with you) dazed and black and blue.
The works of these maidens that keep the fire lit under the cauldron, bustling like midwives, theatrically wailing like hired mourners, are not melancholy dishes of sushi but spectacular steaming bowls of tripe in which to look for omens. To keep Donovan company, I’d suggest a few verses by Fairport Convention, written in the same period as “Season of the Witch”, to hum during the visit to the show: “sunny on the outside, stormy on the inside, stormy weather’s always best for making hay”.
SEASON OF THE WITCH
by Roberto Fantoni
“When I look out my window, Many sights to see. And when I look in my window, so many different people to be. When I look over my shoulder, what do you think I see? Some other cat looking over his shoulder at me.” In 1966, at the dawn of the psychedelic era, Donovan released the album “Sunshine Superman”, which contained this trippy, hypnotic song that fascinated and would continue to fascinate many other musicians, leading to many cover versions, almost like a sort of ritual reinterpretation of a magical acid mantra.
What mysterious thread links title, music, lyrics and the young artists in this show?
Probably the skill and aptitude to make the mind travel out of and into itself, undertaking daring, even reckless explorations while remaining physically still. Probably the knowledge of how to look and see beyond, elsewhere, into the hidden, the soul, the spirit. Or it is a simple association of ideas and emotions that creates an alchemy capable of freeing the imagination and expanding the mind. The world of Elena Rapa “explodes” in fantastic representation, while that of Silvia Argiolas “implodes” in its dramatic inner focus.
What is the Season of the Witch? Is it in the past, are we living it now, or is it a period yet to come? Elena and Silvia are undoubtedly (already) immersed in this fantastic and at the same time apocalyptic condition; they are forerunners, going beyond our gaze; they are hypersensorialists; therefore they are young “witches” capable of putting us in touch with mysterious realities. They are two women who look back and realize they are looking inside themselves, so they take part in a ritual, juxtaposing their two personalities in a sort of mental and creative entropy.
SILVIA ARGIOLAS a woman who “runs with wolves”, a bit Circe, a bit Medea. Her sensitive gifts translate into a form of art with an archaic, primitive, Mediterranean flavor. Her subjects, like aggrieved souls, establish a dialogue with primordial elements: earth, sky, water, fire. It is the representation of a teratogenic, disturbing nature, a nature in which we place hopes of friendship and consolation, that instead turns out to be an adversary, a stepmother. A condition in which love and reproduction are in a state of eternal suspension and awaiting, at best culminating in strange forms of sterile, aborted, wizened crossbreeding, in desperate pursuit of nourishment from a swampy, devouring soil. Silvia’s symbolic expressive style is clear and deep, like a painful stripping of the flesh, immersed and/or floating in color. It is a strange dream world where serenity seems to be banned, leading to an unstable equilibrium.
ELENA RAPA hers is a world made of fables, films, comics, web, folklore, music, books, bestiaries, herbaria and other kinds of food for the mind. The mixture of these ingredients, combined with the various techniques deployed, generates versatile, always unexpected, new results. A “dark” Pop Surrealism that maintains a strong link with the finest tradition of Italian fable. The gaze of a mind-altered Pinocchio, adrift in a contemporary, nocturnal toyland populated by anthropomorphic, mutant plants and animals. Over it all hovers the joy or sadness of a small suburban circus.
Elena and Silvia shun apparent, conventional beauty, seeking their aesthetic dimension where others, out of fear, dare not venture, attempting to give new life to everything that is apparently deformed, unpleasant, uncomfortable, recombining a world that is also “different” for us. Let’s open the windows and get ready for the “magical flight”.