"Paradiso e Inferno/Heaven and Hell"
Through August 23rd

The experiences of common humanity: love, ecstasy, beauty, joy, freedom and peace. But also despair, pain, deceit, hate, suffering and terror.

Heavenly sentiments and hellish states of mind, reality itself is a state of
ever-changing contrasts.

"Paradiso e Inferno/Heaven and Hell" is a journey through these contrasts, via the work of a dozen artists.

The exhibition, curated by Giacinto Di Pietrantonio, director of the Bergamo Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, will be housed at two separate Bevilacqua la Masa Foundation venues: the St. Mark's Square Gallery stages Heaven, while the Palazzetto Tito will house Hell.

Each presenting artist tackles an issue connected to fear, love, peace, hate -- the entire range of human desires and terrors -- in works suited to their own specific poetry and style.

Each artist takes over a single room in which to display one or more works relative to the proposed themes.

The project is informed by Dante's literary masterpieces; the ambitious scope of the exhibit adds yet another theme to "Paradiso e Inferno": the understanding that one must have courage, as well as humility, in examining the grand themes of life.

The following is an outline of the proposed journey:


LOVE: Mike Kelley, (USA): "Extracurricular Activity Reconstruction #1 (Domestic Scene)"

Paintings made by covering the canvas with hundreds of glued-on, multi-colored buttons.

These surfaces become a series of festive planes and visual whorls of movement, tactile representations of the joy of life in simple everyday items that we carry around with us on our clothes, that first layer of artificial skin.

BEAUTY: Ettore Spalletti, (Italy): "White and Gold"

Harmonious beauty is the focus of Ettore Spalletti's work, wherein surfaces bathed in pinks, blues, greens, yellows and whites are captured within the golden borders of the painting frame; the abstract, balanced planes recall the world of painting from antiquity.

They establish a relationship to the immaculate world of Beato Angelico, with Piero della Francesca's exacting perspective geometry, even the delicate finesse of Raffaello's draftsmanship.

ECSTASY: Decosterd and Rahm, (France): "The Scent of Christ, Artificial Air" is a scent-spreading installation. A sculpture descends from the ceiling like an
upside-down fungus, almost touching the ground, then unexpectedly infuses the room with a gentle perfume: an ecstatic perfume which the creators, two architects, call "The Scent of Christ, Artificial Air", which is the arrival point for the installation.

The artists comment on both credulity and skepticism; the possibility to experience the miraculous is inherent in all, regardless of whether or not they believe in miracles.

JOY: Patrick Tuttofuoco, (Italy): Eight luminous sculptures that resemble "mini-skyscrapers" occupy the room like pieces from a chessboard; light and sound pierce the room, modifying the viewer's perception of the space.

In this work, we see the art object, the space surrounding it, and ourselves become part of the joyous experience of being immersed completely, and becoming part of a work of art, rather than just an observer.

FREEDOM: Armin Linke, (Italy): "G8", (2001)
On display, photos from G8 counter-demonstrations in Genova.

The work examines artistic freedom and the public spaces in which we are able to demonstrate our thoughts through action.

Disagreement is central in this series of photographs; we see both liberation and repression through this series of images from a very public demonstration.

PEACE: Massimo Grimaldi, (Italy): "Fish in Afghanistan"

Photos from an emergency mobilization to build a hospital in Kabul. The photos scroll through the dual screens of a Mac computer; through the merging and dissolving of photographs onscreen, the artist demonstrates two means of progress: on the one hand, the beauty and power of technology to assist us in our daily lives; on the other, the constructive (literally) effect of peace and benevolent intent during times of crisis.


DESPAIR: Marcel Dzama and Neil Farber (Canada): Both artist draw on the theme of the apocalypse: some one hundred surreal drawings are on display, which recount the story of the day of judgement.

A type of moving human/animal bestiary, the images pulse with a macabre vitality, a dance of death made up of mythological beings. The narrative begins with the start of time and finishes with the final days, and the end of hope; utter despair is what the Canadian artists offer here.

PAIN: Ryan Mendoza, (USA): Mendoza creates striking paintings in which the protagonist is an icon, a mixture of realism and expressionism. The work is based on the suffering body.

The artist uses a palette of thick and compact colors that give life to images, abrading the viewer's senses with images of men and women who carry the burden of pain and suffering as if it were inseparable from their existence.

Mendoza's works are enigmatic and visceral, portraits of anonymous figures which capture an eerie awareness of physical and psychological pain in the subject of our scrutiny.

DECEIT: Pietro Roccasalva, (Italy): Paintings and drawings.

Pietro Roccasalva evokes the meaning of deceit through the process of painting, itself.

Painting, indeed, is never truly real, even when the image constructed on the surface seems to represent the original object.

The process of creation, and the resulting imagery is a kind of deceit, and, in this sense, that untruth is its own condemnation: the viewer is never placed in front of the world, but in front of an image of the world.

HATE: Roberto Cuoghi, (Italy): The artist displays paintings which portray psychedelic/expressionist skulls: "memento mori" for a world churning with conflict.

The representation of death is shown in skulls which smile statically, and relentlessly, though our cultural, political, and socio-economic clashes, reminding viewers that they'll all wear the same grim 'smile' -- eventually.

SUFFERING: Dragana Spanjos, (Croatia): Installation. Spanjos creates mechanized environments through technology or manually operated apparatus, which animate the space, always at the ready to catch the bored gallery trawler by surprise.

In this case, the artist has routed a series of sensors which zap the unwary with a small electric shocks at calf-level, gifting the casual observer with the experience of genuine physical suffering, albeit in micro.

TERROR: Gino de Dominicis, (Italy): "D'io", (1971)

A sound installation of diabolical laughter. The artist's satanic laughter spreads throughout the area at random intervals, causing disorientation for the visitor, since there is no effective way to predict when the sound will resurface.

The sound follows the visitor throughout the exhibition, and there is no way to escape. Oh, the horror.

[Shown: “Intelligent Artificer”,
(1999-2003), Pietro Roccasalva]

Find it: Galleria Bevilacqua La Masa, Piazza San Marco 71/c
and Palazzetto Tito, Dorsoduro 2826
Venice, Italy
Get info: Tel. +39 041 5237819 (San Marco)
and +39 041 5207797, +39 041 5208879 (Tito)

Find art events in other cities, in the August 2004 issue of "Arte Six".