PATRIZIO DI MASSIMO
The show revolves around themes and productions significant to the last years of the artist’s research and includes paintings, sculptures and installation.
Often in spiritual paths, a fundamental part of the journey consists of embracing the fact that the entire universe lies within us. If all the ideas, answers, concerns are inside us, how do we access them? One way entails standing still, and listening.
Patrizio Di Massimo’s exhibition does what its title suggests. It is a journey through visions and emotions that ripple in the artist’s mind. Existence is articulated through duality, where every notion has its opposite to balance out reality. In five of the six new paintings presented in the exhibition, duality is expressed figuratively with two characters: a man and a woman, which also happen to be the artist and his wife. They engage in various actions, but it would be wrong to confuse these acts with masquerades. The couple is not acting or faking, but instead they are caught in the moment where the experience becomes what ones mind manifests through emotions and visions. If love and fear are the basic opposite sentiments that trigger all the various other nuances of feelings, then each painting fearlessly embraces the necessity of dichotomies.
In “I am mad at you”, for instance, anger and antagonism runs up against a pitch-dark background, the couple grabbing each other by hair and neck while she kicks him and he pulls her jumper. Both facial expressions are triggered by rage and frustration. “I am a pink lady” continues the theme of female domination while “I am Count Dracula” portrays the artist as the dark Transylvanian character in the act of waking up from the coffin. Both “I am listening” and “I am fulfilled” introduce a gentler nuance, where the interior world is made of confessed erotic fantasies and domestic cuddles.
The only painting that doesn’t have a couple conducting the scene, titled “I am abducted”, explores the inside/outside duality using the body as the sole barrier that divides the two worlds. Opening the body can literally free you from the human condition, making you one with the whole. Clearly, the process doesn’t come without some painful moments.
The exhibition also presents two new enlarged decorated tassels, which are part of a series of sculptures initiated few years ago that transforms decorative items into personified elements, elevating the status of an object to a subject that calls for attention. If the paintings look on the inside as a form of meditative journey, the sculptures address the body as a gorgeous and laud effect of existence. The tassels are all hand made with such skills and attention to details that once more we are reminded that beauty comes with dedication and total commitment.
“I am heraldic” is constructed through patterns of Renaissance reminiscence, where the artist’s palette of pinks and blacks interweave in an anthropomorphized stem. The shape of the tassel also calls to mind the chess pawn, or the infantryman, a theme that appears frequently in the depiction of armor and warriors. “I am magenta” counterbalances the virile presence of the first tassel with a feminine, matriarchal presence. Magenta is the color of universal harmony and emotional balance, the color of the seventh chakra and spiritual enlightenment.
Upstairs, one of Di Massimo’s most recognizable cushion installations from 2013 stands, peaceful and mysterious. The work, also titled “Inside me”, was the first one in a series of custom made cushion installations, all activated by performers hidden inside the structure, exposing limbs through the gaps. Here the thresholds are blurred as hands and feet can break through the cushion pyramid and can be seen at times, while the rest is left to one’s own imagination.
There is a Buddhist saying that goes, “the true Buddha sits in the interior.” In the gallery space, architecturally reminiscent of the labyrinthine shape of an apartment, Di Massimo’s artworks stand as milestones on the journey that brings one individual to familiarize themselves with their own personal truth. And as often is the case, the more you get close to it, the more ironic it all feels.
Photos by Trevor Lloyd and Mark Blower
Courtesy of the artist and ChertLüdde, Berlin