30.06 – 21.07 2022
For its seventh exhibition, MASSIMO is pleased to announce “Noble Experiment,” a solo show by Giuliana Rosso, from June 30th to July 21st. The exposition – headed by a critical essay curated by Caterina Avataneo – turns MASSIMO into a haunted dungeon filled with the characters that infest the artist’s works, characterized by acid-tinged imagery and dreamy, restless teenage atmospheres.
Giuliana Rosso’s research moves between painting and drawing, with sculptural and installation contaminations. With “Noble Experiment,” the artist includes, within her artworks, marginal architectural elements, such as niches, tubes, and corners, making them central to the transforming process of the exposition into a site-specific installation.
Facing the viewer is Daylight is nobody’s friend (2022), a painted figure on papier-mâché, dangling off one of the tubes crossing MASSIMO’s space. Its hallucinated gaze is the first glimpse into a room that – for the occasion – becomes a grotto, a lair, a basement, a “place of terror and wonder.”
Torna a casa Adesso (2022) is the second largescale work that stands out against the blank space’s front wall. Using chalk and charcoal on paper, the artist immortalized the precise instance of a girl being grabbed and dragged away – after a fall on skates – by mysterious hands. The picture trespasses into a painting wall intervention that simulates, as in a trompe-l’œil, a side wall gap that leads us, with the girl, inside a virtual elsewhere that parallels the physical space: the imaginary dimension the characters belong to. Comet Bonsai (2022) and Sidereal Rabbit (2022), medium-sized works that occupy the central tube and a side niche, conclude the exhibition.
The exhibition is headed by an essay by Caterina Avataneo who, through the words of the “girl with the rollerblades,” evokes memories of adolescence, fictional perhaps, combining elements of the exhibition into a narrative that, by reiterating its suggestions and amplifying its imagery, becomes as an artwork.
1. A journal
I remember those sweaty summer nights in Alassio, when darkness was taking over, deceptive, sweltering still. Hot as hell, perfect for mosquitoes but not for sudamina. I could not breathe, nor move too much and certainly I couldn’t sleep. So I found my way to seek relief, skating under the guard of stars to chase the last marine breeze, with my grandpa teaching me how to turn with my rollerblades, making my body aerodynamic, slender, lightning like a ninja sword… wow he was good! He was a football player for Messina, and a professional skater.. Me on the other hand, clumsy, but fearless enough to experiment with some tricks. I was good too, actually. And then just a tiny grain of sand and there I was. On the burning asphalt with bruises and grazes, my skeleton knee pads screaming of horror and me trying to contain tears, hoping the other cool kids did not see.
It’s always a downfall, a descent at least. Mothers push their babies down their abyssal wombs and out their cavernous vulvae, in a painful and sticky journey. For other creatures it is more elegant, Lucifer vaulted downwards so many times before creating his potent inferno cone, and Alice got swallowed in the rabbit-hole… Down down down. I have heard that even the human mind is a hellish bottomless cesspit of neurons if you venture there. At MASSIMO too, everyone descends all the time, a maximum decline. Just a few steps down the swampy rathole and Giuliana’s underworld is unveiled. At its entrance an angsty lemur-boy stares who makes a landfall. He, Caronte of basements, is a supernatural apparition not to be trusted. His icy eyes invite to secrecy… because Giuliana is a mad scientist, a real artist. She is able to open dangerously fascinating black holes, she catches comets and leashes them; you will see with your own eyes. It’s a fertile lab disclosing the universe. In this place of terror and wonder even my rollerblades were invented, by two American brothers and a tired rabbit.
Just a turn and there I am, fallen. In the midst of my time-travel-tunnel, my palpitating tornado, my fullest life. It’s electric! Everything moves but I am still, frozen somehow, like in the worst ordeals. Giuliana makes things cheerful, light and luminescent for me. She even fixes cracks with plasters, carefully, with love. And while she drags me away I become her prisoner. My frankensteinian skin gets greener: the basement is a sealed tower and I am the dragon in it. Powerful, in total surrender. Now I don’t really know what will happen. I feel nostalgic of those summer nights, when I knew how to fall, I had no idea how wise I was then. We unplumbed souls, must be light if we want to descend. The deeper we go, the darker it gets.
The girl with rollerblades
2. On falling and other considerations
I have a Giuliana Rosso drawing at my house, it depicts a girl lying face on the floor on a cobbled road. She watches me silently while I write, not disclosing too much, her emoji face-tattoos still smiling. Looking at her orange nails at the edges of the paper I notice the position of her hands, seemingly embracing this coarse surface…
The characters that populate canvases, sculptures and drawings in Giuliana Rosso’s work often fall, magnetically attracted to the ground. Heads down, feet up, face on the floor, with open wounds and adsorbed gazes they capitulate and succumb in forests, lakes, bedrooms, bat-hubs and other hallucinatory environments whose ordinary nature takes dark, supernatural tones. They lay there, serenely, absently, they flop on the ground and let external forces in. Their fall belongs to vulnerability, clumsiness and error, but also to bliss and contemplation. What makes it creepy is not the action itself but the reaction to it: nuanced and bewildering. Once the fall happens everything around the characters becomes magic. Electricity, auras, spirits of the forest and other invisible things become apparent, and the madness of reality permeates through nightmarish highly synthetic and psychedelic colours.
Irreal rather than surreal, the work of Giuliana Rosso offers particular versions of reality which are emotional, intuitive and easily impressionable. The stories that her characters carry do not provide actual descriptions, nor clear resolutions. They are fragments of a traumatised present, mirroring the fears of our world in metamorphosis and reminding us how renewal really functions. Rosso’s work is like the teens it depicts: wild and fragile like a blade of grass.