Sunday, October 29, 2017

Riccardo Ajossa at Spazio Nuovo, Rome

Last year Bill and I discovered Spazio Nuovo -- Rome's coolest contemporary art gallery. We have discovered interesting European and South American artists there.
We didn't know Riccardo Ajossa whose works are currently on display in a show called #incerticonfini (in English: Uncertain Boundaries). Above: the panel in the centre is ink on handmade paper flanked by two photographs.
Both the paper and the inks in the panel on the left have been made by the artist. The paper has been made using a traditional Korean technique. The inks are made according to historical recipes. 
For the photograghs the artist has placed details from paintings by Titian and Tiepolo in the water on Portuguese beaches and recorded the reflections.
Ajossa has also made a set of collages using his handmade papers with antique prints.
 Bill and I were drawn to one last ambitious artwork --
a table filled with artist's studies -- experiments with pigments on old paper stock
with gorgeous results.
I took these details with my phone. Phones are uniquely suited to tabletop photography.
Guillaume, one of the gallery's founders encouraged us to "dig down" through the layers to look at the works beneath.
We bought this collage. Isn't it lovely? Note to collectors: the works on the table are very reasonably priced -- if you are in Rome you might want to get down to Spazio Nuovo sooner rather than later.

Organ concerts at Portuguese church

When in Rome it is fun to take advantage of the free concerts that happen in the local churches.
John and I visited the extravagantly Baroque Sant'Antonio dei Portoghesi to hear two concerts featuring virtuoso organist, Giampaolo Di Rosa.
The interior of the church is rich with marble walls
and ornate chapels.
The space filled up quickly. The church must have established a reputation for quality concerts.
The first concert featured piano pieces by Scarlatti and organ music by Bach and finished with an impassioned improvisation by Di Rosa on the theme of the centenary of the visions at Fatima.
We were quite curious about the second concert because we knew of twentieth century atonal composer Olivier Messiaen but we were not familiar with his work.
Les Corps Glorieux (The Glorious Body) was a fascinating and gorgeous piece of music and allowed Di Rosa to use all his skills at evoking timbre and colour from his magnificent instrument.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Monet at the Wedding Cake

John and I just saw a great show of Monet paintings at the Complesso del Vittoriano gallery in Rome.
The gallery is set into the east side of the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II (better known as the Wedding Cake). The paintings are on loan from the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris.
We entered through a multi-media display of details from Monet's famous Water Lily paintings.
The show opens with a number of Monet's late works -- Boats in the Port of Honfleur, 1917
Hemerocallis, 1914-1917,
Waterlilies and Agapanthus, 1914-1917
and Irises, 1924-1925. Notice how loosely painted and modern they look
compared to his late-19th century painting The Seine at Port-Ville, Evening Effect, 1894.
I love how the 20th century drawings show that new looseness -- sketch for Water Lilies, 1916-1919
and Reflections of Willows, 1916-1919.
I wonder if Monet's late paintings like The Rose Path, 1920-1922, influenced New York Abstract-Expressionist painters like Joan Mitchell and Grace Hartigan
The large, gorgeous paintings at the end of the show are very exciting because they obviously lead to his final masterpieces -- the huge Water Lily paintings at the Orangerie in Paris. The Roses, 1925-1926,
Water Lilies, 1917-1919,
Wisteria, 1919-1920
and another Wisteria from the same period.
The show was fully merchandised. Need a Monet plate or teacup perhaps?
The show concludes February 2018.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Roman Graffiti of B. R. Ammazzate

Bill and I first noticed these curious graffiti last year.
We saw these two works on the Street of  the Marble Foot on the front the Ditta G. Poggi art supplies store. We liked them very much and thought they must be by the same artist.
When we encountered this charming pair near the Palazzo Pamphilj we were hooked.
We started to see this person's work all over the centre of Rome. I found this nice set of drawings just off the Via del Tritone.
And this bewitching work on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. That's the Gesù in the background.
So when we returned to Rome this year we were delighted to find this little drawing. It was like running into an old friend. This morning I got curious about that name and decided to google it.
I discovered a newspaper article from 2014 and a dozen photographs of work by "our" artist, who it seemed went by the name B. R. Ammazzate. A Roman friend told me that "ammazzate" is Italian for "you kill (plural)" and is also Roman slang for "kill yourself".
He wondered if B. R. stood for Brigate Rosse (Red Brigades), the group that terrorized Italy in the 70's and 80's. Their name in Italian is routinely abreviated BR.
When Bill and I went out to get some lunch today I began to look again at what I began to think of as "text" works.
 I admit I had noticed these and wondered about them but had been resisting photographing them despite the clear visual evidence that they came from the same hand that had done the sketches we liked.
 I was already taking dozens of pictures a day and didn't want to have to start collecting pictures of individual words and numbers.
But I had to pick up a few -- like these lovelies.
Ammazzate's handwriting is as distinctive as Cy Twombly's.
We still like the sketches best. 
They have a pleasant throw-away quality and yet there is a wonderful absurdity to them.
We still think of B. R. Ammazzate as our personal discovery.
That's because the work is both intimate and unforgettable.
Ammazzate is a generous artist with work all over the centro storico of Rome. May his or her magic marker never run out of ink!