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Giulio Paolini – Et in Arcadia ego

The City Museums of Verona – The ‘Achille Forti’ Modern Art Gallery and ArtVerona present Giulio Paolini, Et in Arcadia ego, 15 october 2023 – 3 march 2024. Curated by Patrizia Nuzzo and Stefano Raimondi. A format specifically designed for the spaces of the Gallery and featuring the key elements of Paolini’s research and in which unpublished pieces, conceived for the Verona museum, dialogue with works from the public collection, such as his ‘The Apparition of the Virgin’ and included in the civic collection since 2002. The artist returns to Verona after being the star of an anthological exhibition hosted between 2001 and 2002 at Palazzo Forti, GAM’s historical home. It is certainly one of the most eagerly awaited openings in the programme that sees the City Museums – Achille Forti Modern Art Gallery (GAM) and ArtVerona working together for the 2023 edition. From 15 October to 3 March 2024, at Palazzo della Ragione, home of the Achille Forti Modern Art Gallery, it will be possible to visit the unprecedented project by Giulio Paolini entitled Et in Arcadia Ego, curated by Patrizia Nuzzo and Stefano Raimondi. The exhibition, which is part of the framework of a historical bond between GAM and ArtVerona, is the result of the first collaboration between the Gallery and Habitat, the section of ArtVerona (13 – 15 October) that reconstructs immersive artistic environments. Paolini’s installation accompanies works by Gianni Colombo and Marinella Pirelli that will be exhibited in the spaces of the fair. The artist returns to Verona after being the star of an anthological exhibition hosted between 2001 and 2002 at Palazzo Forti, GAM’s historical home. Now as it was then, Paolini, has imagined a lyrical and conceptual itinerary characterised by the key elements of his research and in which unpublished pieces, conceived for the Verona museum, dialogue with works from the GAM collection, such as his The Apparition of the Virgin and included in the city’s collection since 2002. In Et in Arcadia ego, which also gives the title to one of the works on display, Paolini stages the visual tale of an artist who addresses with renewed creativity the “deceptions” of representation – such as copying, mimesis, perspective, constant elements of his research – in favour of a kind of conceptuality that renews the complex chessboard of meanings around the work of art. Having lost its traditional centrality, the work is arranged on set in a sort of timeless ‘cradle’ in which the past lives in the present and is transformed into the future. It is the titles of the works themselves that dictate the evolution of a story that begins with the author, dispossessed of himself and as if pervaded by an uncertain entity, traversing the Scala della Ragione (The Stairway of Reason) and continuing with Copia e Originale (Copy and Original) where the life-size plaster cast of a hand dialogues with the original and perfect form of the ostrich egg, in the uncertainty or inversion of its identity. In a context devoid of certainty, the artist investigates the traces of Una Doppia Vita (A Double Life) in the symmetrical and reverse subdivision of two halves of the same place. Ambiguity that is also reflected in Dall’Aurora al Tramonto (From Dawn to Dusk), where the multiple possibilities and reasons for the existence of a work of art are evoked. These also include Il Modello in Persona (The Model in Person), an emblematic but at the same time mysterious inhabitant of any artist’s studio. The focal point of the habitat revolves around Riapparizione della Vergine (Reappearance of the Virgin), a reinterpretation of L’Apparizione della Vergine (The Apparition of the Virgin), a work dated 1995-1996 and already part of the GAM civic collection. The new work consists of two elements arranged one on the floor and the other in mid-air. On the floor is a photographic enlargement of Francis Picabia’s La Sainte Vierge, while from the ceiling hangs the open case of a cello. Both elements allude to a potential revelation, to a sublime apparition: just as the sound of the absent instrument echoes from the case, so does the drawing of a hypothetical, illegible image emerge from the enigmatic ink blot. For Habitat this installation is presented in an extended and amplified version. A catalogue, curated by Patrizia Nuzzo and Stefano Raimondi and published by Manfredi Edizioni, accompanies the exhibition and will be presented in December. The Habitat project is intended to deepen a specific research that originated in Italy with Lucio Fontana starting in the late 1940s and that blossomed definitively in the 1960s, then going on to develop along different and original trajectories up to the present day. These are works that cannot simply be seen but must be experienced, environments that must be inhabited: habitats in which the work is the space itself that is created and shaped by the artist. Through this study of the artistic space, the process of immersive participation of the visitor, invited to explore the environment and for the first time to “enter” a work of art, becomes complete.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

Born on 5 November 1940 in Genoa, Giulio Paolini lives in Turin. Since his first participation in a group exhibition in 1961 and his first solo exhibition in 1964, he has exhibited in galleries and museums all over the world. Major retrospectives have been held at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1980), Nouveau Musée, Villeurbanne (1984), Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart (1986), Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome (1988), Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz (1998) and Fondazione Prada, Milan (2003). Recent anthological exhibitions include those at the Whitechapel Gallery, London (2014), Fondazione Carriero, Milan (2018) and Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Turin (2020). He has taken part in several Arte Povera exhibitions and has been invited several times to Documenta in Kassel (1972, 1977, 1982, 1992) and to the Venice Biennale (1970, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2013). In 2022, he was awarded the Praemium Imperiale for Painting by the Japan Art Association in Tokyo, the most important award in the field of art. His work can be found in both national and international public and private collections. Since the beginning, Paolini has accompanied his artistic research with reflections collected in books he has personally edited: Idem, with an introduction by Italo Calvino (Einaudi, Turin 1975), Quattro passi. Nel museo senza muse (Einaudi, Turin 2006) and L’autore che credeva di esistere (Johan & Levi, Milan 2012). He has also created sets and costumes for theatrical productions, among which are the projects he designed with Carlo Quartucci in the 1980s and the sets for two operas by Richard Wagner directed by Federico Tiezzi (2005, 2007).

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