When Claudio Spadoni and Giorgio Verzotti asked us to curate an exhibition for Arte Fiera, by picking from among the works and the artists represented by the galleries present at this year’s event, it came naturally to decide on the theme of Italy, being well aware, however, of the need to avoid stereotypes like the “boot” and the “beautiful country”. We wanted to stay away from a didactic type of exhibition, but rather leaned towards a moment of reflection - even if just for the brief moment of the fair. It would be a critical countermelody to the great event made up of a rich and varied ensemble of galleries brimming with many diverse works of art. But it would have a strong tie with the vocation that the fair of Bologna claims as its own, posing itself as a space of knowledge and promotion of Italian art.
An exhibition in an exhibition. This is how this show that goes through the twentieth century and reaches the young generations was born, concentrating not just on the important expressions of Italian art, but on how, without our walls, the culture of our country has been a stimulus and reflection for foreign artists. It is a story for images of how we are, how we see ourselves and how others see us. We have thought to concentrate our attention above all on the major players of the twentieth century that represent the “characters” of Italy, its foundations, both stylistic and historical and artistic.
Furthermore, we have watched Italian artists currently active that whether they are in their country or abroad, reflect upon these characters, on themes, motifs, and iconographies that make up the history, memory, the “genes” of Italy. It is thus that through the most varied of languages, with a backpack of our roots slung over our shoulder to take on our voyage, we will watch the artwork of the past go by, with a new take that is always fresh and contemporary - the earthquake of L’Aquila and its aftermath, the still lifes and landscapes, the outskirts of Milan and Rome; we will follow in the footsteps of Pasolini and will relive the revival of Carmelo Bene. We will contemplate Sacred Love and Profane Love. We will meet heroines of the melodrama and fragments of the ancient. We will practice rites of a legendary Southern Italy. We will greet Paolina Borghese and Michelangelo of the Sistine Chapel. We will filter these our visions of Italy through movies that have told many stories. We will see squares, monuments, faces, houses and newspapers. But we will also see signs, subjects, colors—Italian form in its multiple expressions.
Article by Laura Cherubini and Lea Mattarella