Nicola Pucci in Casual Encounters. Curated by Jonathan Turner

leggi in Italiano

Opening: Wednesday January 18, 2012 from 6pm .  Galleria Il Ponte Contemporanea in Rome is pleased to announce the opening of the solo show of a series of new oil paintings. by Nicola Pucci.

In his most recent paintings, Palermo-based artist Nicola Pucci depicts animals, pot-plants, humans, toys, furniture, tableware and other disparate objects floating in space. The hovering elements are often linked, sometimes literally tied together with chains and necklaces. His scenes have an unsettling, Surrealist edge, superimposed against such domestic backgrounds as a kitchen table laid for lunch, or a dusty, sun-bleached parlour. With a few lines of scrubby paint, he creates subtle settings, the sorts of rooms in which the curtains have been left open for too long.

Pucci portrays playful soft toys next to realistic representations of other animals. A cartoonish puppy with big eyes and exaggerated, comical features appears alongside a naturalistic dog. It is as though they are twins from a parallel universe. The bare limbs of a 1950’s pin-up are painted next to the ceramic figurine of little girl. Symbolically, the largest painting in his solo show at Galleria Il Ponte Contemporanea features an elephant.  In Pucci’s world, the real and the imaginary are suddenly combined.

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“My aim is a sense of collision, how images can co-exist in a painting in an improbable way. But their relationship is intentional.  Today with this bombardment of images we see in everyday life, we often can’t distinguish between the authentic and the fake. We live in a cocktail of fiction and fact.”

Pucci’s new canvases refer back to classical figurative art, but also to the expressionism of Francis Bacon. The shadows are smashed to a meaty pulp, in a bloody, pugilistic version of how perspective can work.  Echoes of Pucci’s earlier canvases of boxers, aggressive dogs and cock-fights are evident.

Meanwhile Pucci also cites the collages of Britain’s Pop Art master Richard Hamilton as an ongoing influence. “Hamilton represents a particular casualness, an unexpected atmosphere, the idea of sudden contrast and instinct against order and rationalism.”

In a pictorial way, Pucci wants to similarly confuse the viewer, so we don’t immediately  recognize what is painted and what has been created from paper, scissors and glue. But in fact, it is all painted, even though the different elements might be based on images taken from computer photo-shop, magazine pages or small statues bought from the flea-markets in Piazza Marina in Palermo. He also plays games of scale, in which a fluffy dog can tower over a reclining woman, in which a seafood lunch can become more dramatic than a crucifix.

Like a magpie which collects bright, shiny objects, Pucci is attracted to silver-plated cutlery, crystal glasses and other items which reflect flashes of pure, white light. There is no single light source, since the images are taken from different at difference times. He also captures the distortion of objects as seen through water in a drinking glass, pitcher or fishbowl.  The refined dinner settings give polite sheen to initial chaos.

Similarly, we see the introduction of bright red in many of his new paintings.  This colour appears in the forms of boiled lobsters, ruby-coloured glass, tomatoes or the combs of roosters.  It is a cheerful colour, a hot, flaming, fire-engine flash, unlike the palette of his earlier, muted paintings.

Born in Palermo in 1966, Pucci lived in Rome for 15 years, but he is now based back in his home-town. Since 1993, Pucci’s work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in London, New York, Los Angeles, Switzerland and throughout Italy. It has been almost six years since his last solo exhibition at Galleria Il Ponte Contemporanea, and four years since his show at the Museo Carlo Bilotti in Rome (the first solo in this institution dedicated to an Italian contemporary artist).  So what has changed in his work in this time?

Before, my paintings were about how people behaved with each other. I looked at the attitude of men in a group, the automatic sense of behaviour, or the theatrical mask, like in a play by Pirandello. I used to paint about our fear of being natural, how a man reacts to himself in the mirror. My newest works are more entertaining, less analysed, less controlled.  An animal represents something of liberty and spontaneity. But when I construct a painting, I see the equilibrium of empty space against the mass of form. It’s almost geometric.  I see these new works as an abstraction of figurative painting.”

The show will continue through Saturday March 3, 2012

Gallery hours: Monday to Saturday, from 12.00 to 19.00

Il Ponte Contemporanea – via di Giovanni di Castel Bolognese 81  00153  Roma.

www.ilpontecontemporanea.com  – info@ilpontecontemporanea.com