MARVIN GAYE CHETWYND « BAT OPERA 2 », MASSIMO DE CARLO, MILAN

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Marvin Gaye Chetwynd “Bat Opera 2” / Galleria Massimo de Carlo, Milan / Through january 17, 2015.

The works of Marvin Gaye Chetwynd are deeply rooted into folk traditions: medieval carnivals, propitiatory dances and political demonstrations are the background from which the artist constructs an opulent and dystonic world that often refers to black humour and gothic literature as well as the historical avant-gardes and the icons of contemporary cinema.

“Bat Opera 2” brings to the gallery a selection of videos, paintings, and installations by Marvin Gaye Chetwynd and gather for the occasion of this exhibition an inspired and eclectic compilation of the most recent works by the British artist.

The second room of the gallery is populated by a series of mischievous objects and figures made of papiermachè; these sculptures come from the set of the puppet film Vision Verticale, previously presented at Le Consortium in Dijon for the exhibition “L’Almanach 14.” Light and whimsical, this film casts the scientists of the CNES (Centre National des Etudes Spatiales) on board of a space station in their day to day activities that gets destabilized by a mysterious event: the apparition of a strange terrestrial construction.

In the following room the viewer is immerged into the wild extravaganza of a site specific installation: large scale multi coloured sheets change completely the perception of the gallery space forcing the viewer to walk through a twisting and labyrinthine route of lights and shadows hiding many twists and numerous surprises.
The exuberance of this installation is countered by a series of small works on paper, hanging on the walls of the gallery. These paintings, elegant and ironically delicate, retract the nightmare of every child: the bat.

The artist has been working on this series of paintings—keeping always the same size and always in horizontal format—for years. Here the central character is the semi-mythological night creature portrayed obsessively in different poses and varieties. This terrifying figure is found flying in turquoise skies, among menacing black clouds, or over green hills landscapes with medieval castles. These works are full of references to the history of art and to vintage cinema, as well as to theatre and gothic literature: they embody the eclectic spirit that dominates the artist’s practice.

The exhibition ends with the film Hermitos Children 2 (the second chapter of the homonymous trilogy): a criminal drama where the telepathic detective Joan Shipman tries to solve absurd and bizarre crimes. In this new film the narrative footage is balanced with images of live performances: this last episode, titled King Must Die/Yoyo’s Caught Catting, sees the detective facing a mystery of sexual nature in which her exhusband is involved.

With her videos, her installations, her paintings, and her sculptures, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd acts as a puppeteer who creates an anarchic and surreal world enlivened with joyous mis-en-scenes where every rule as we know disappears. Every project by Marvin Gaye Chetwynd functions as a door opened to the illusory White Rabbit’s Hole, a secret door that leads us into a world of foolishness and exceptions.

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Visuels : Marvin Gaye Chetwynd : “Bat Opera 2”, installation views / Galleria Massimo de Carlo, Milan, 2014 : Photo: Roberto Marossi and Alessandro Zambianchi.

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