MAURIZIO CATTELAN AU CAC DE MALAGA

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Maurizio Cattelan / CAC, Malaga, Spain / Jusqu’au 4 janvier 2015.

Première exposition solo en Espagne pour Maurizio Cattelan, dont les pièces issues de la Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo sont visibles jusqu’au 4 janvier 2015 au Centre d’Art Contemporain de Malaga.

The CAC Málaga is presenting the first solo exhibition in Spain devoted to Maurizio Cattelan, featuring works from the collection of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. Curated by Fernando Francés, the exhibition comprises a selection of eight works that offer a survey of the artist’s career from its outset to the first decade of the 21st century. Maurizio Cattelan is one of the most important Italian contemporary artists. His work is notable for its use of a wide range of techniques and materials, including neon, waste and rubble, polyurethane, resin, photography and even stuffed animals. Cattelan makes use of irony to emphasise social and political problems in Italy, while also offering a critique of post-capitalism and the context in which contemporary art is currently created. At the present time he is co-founder of the visual publication Toilet Paper Magazine. Cattelan lives and works in New York. This exhibition has benefitted from the collaboration of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo.

“There are times when being scandalous or provocative can help to draw attention to more significant problems”, explains Maurizio Cattelan (born Padua, Italy, 1960) in relation to his work. Cattelan is one of Italy’s leading contemporary artists, whose work first became known in the 1990s. Sculptures, photographs and installations are his principal modes of expression. The present exhibition at the CAC Málaga features eight works from the collection of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, offering a survey of the artist’s career from its beginnings until just before his withdrawal from the art world in 2011.

In the words of Fernando Francés, director of the CAC Málaga: “A self-taught artist, his irreverence and anarchy have defined his working approach from the outset. He made contact with arte povera and with Pistoletto, Muz, Fabro and Manzoni. After exploring the world of design, he made performance and installation his distinguishing traits, overturning the rules of art and reflecting on controversial subjects such as religion, post-capitalism and political conflicts in his home country in a subversive and humorous manner […]. The line between the comic and tragic side overlaps in an attempt to establish a false equilibrium, but at times one reality imposes itself on the other and this is the moment to see things exactly as they are, with the masks stripped away. Cattelan has removed the disguise and challenges us to do the same. The question is whether we are ready for it.”

In Maurizio Cattelan’s work the viewer is expected to question the reasons for the laughter and humour that pervades it. The artist confronts profound dilemmas on art, offers a social and political critique of his own country and also makes use of biographical elements. The earliest work in the exhibition is a photograph of the historic performance Cesena 47 – A. C. Forniture Sud 12 (1991), which took place at the Galeria de Arte Moderno in Bologna. For this work Cattelan organised a football match between two teams, one of which was entirely made up of North African players. He thus made use of one of Italy’s favourite sports to draw attention to xenophobic conflicts currently taking place there. Racism as a source of conflict as well as other issues such as the Mafia are to be found in his work. Lullaby (1994), made with rubble and rubbish collected after the Mafia bomb attack that damaged the Pavilion of Contemporary Arts in Milan in 1993, placed the focus on one of Italy’s most serious problems, giving visibility to such acts.

The exhibition also includes Il Bel Paese (1995), in which the idyllic image of Italy is reinterpreted in a strikingly visual manner. The work consists of a rug which has reproduced on it the label of a cheese that is one of Italy’s favourite products, offering a type of stereotype of the country in which it is easy to imagine the delights of its climate and cultural heritage. Nonetheless, the fact that it is a rug means that it will be stepped on by visitors to the exhibition, thus deconstructing the idyllic vision.

Religion is another source of inspiration for Cattelan. The neon of his own name, into which he introduces a third “t”, refers to the image of the three crosses, either in reference to the victims of the attacks mentioned above or because he wishes to appropriate the religious symbolism that alludes to the three crosses on Mount Calvary. Again, in Christmas ’95 (1995) Catholicism is the focus of the work, which consists of a neon in the form of the star of Bethlehem, into which Cattelan introduces the emblem of the Red Brigades, an armed organisation that emerged in Italy in the 1970s and which used the symbol of an asymmetrical five-pointed star.

Biographical elements are evident in the installation Bidibidobidiboo (1996), which features a stuffed squirrel that has just committed suicide and has collapsed prostrate across a table. The furniture in the work refers to the house that Cattelan grew up in Padua and which he left as soon as he was eighteen. The animal’s suicide represents the existential crisis of the transition from adolescence to adulthood, evoking the melancholy and sadness involved in leaving behind other facets of life.

The art world is another target of Cattelan’s uniquely mordant vision. La Rivoluzione siamo noi (2000) is an installation consisting of an effigy of the artist himself dressed in the type of felt suit worn by the German artist Joseph Beuys and suspended from a coat hanger. Here Cattelan sets out to strip the contemporary art world of its mysticism and tendency to worship big names.

A more recent work, Untitled (2000) consists of the sculpture of a hand making a universally recognised gesture. As such, it is a critique of the post-capitalism of the world’s most powerful nations.

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Visuels copyright the artist / CAC Malaga

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