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EXHIBITIONS

Mathilde Rosier and Kimsooja at Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan

Mathilde Rosier “Impersonal Empire, The Buds”

Galleria Raffaella Cortese is pleased to announce Impersonal Empire, The Buds, Mathilde Rosier’s third solo show at the gallery. The exhibition will run concurrent to her participation in Castello di Rivoli’s group show Metamorfosi (March 5th – June 24th), curated by Chus Martínez, and to her exhibition project Figures of Climax of the Impersonal Empire for Fondazione Guido Lodovico Luzzatto, which takes place at the historic home of the famous Milanese scholar and art critic (March 13th – May 6th).

Rosier’s research is focused on the creation of suspended environments that allow viewers to lose their perception of time and space, offering an entryway to other possible dimensions of being and existing. Building upon her interests in the psychological and physical experiences of ancient rites and rituals, Rosier works across painting, performance, music and video, evoking a journey between realms that are close to the subconscious, but remain grounded in consciousness.

On the occasion of the exhibition, the French artist produced a video and is showing oil paintings on canvas, building upon a number of themes already present in her work. The human figures, the intimacy of the space, the paintings and the video are all part of a “choral machine” that aims to refine our sensibility towards what we consider real. The intention at the core of these works is to transport us to a space for contemplation, where time is dilated by the encounter with the large canvases on view, a “secluded” and quiet place for meditation. As the artist herself wrote in the text that accompanies the show “one should look at the paintings like in a movie theatre, sitting down, forgetting about their body, forgetting about time.”

The video that opens the show stems from a performance recorded a few days before the opening: two waltz dancers wear costumes designed by the artist and dance across the gallery space, repeatedly removing the letters and signs drawn on the floor. The viewers bear witness of a birth, the budding of a new language and thus that of a new reality, yet one that is too young to be codified. The dance also acts as an introduction to the installation of recent paintings of the Blind Swim series, in which visionary figures, placed within portals, live in a different world than ours: a fluid and ever-changing atmosphere invites us to meditate and, as Rosier herself stated “when it works, painting, like music, interrupts the incessant functioning of language in the always-agitated mind; it creates a moment of silence, like a landscape after a long walk. It makes us forget our story and our face. It’s a kind of joy that makes ones rejoice, hoping to find something deep within us.” Language and faces are tools that allow us to communicate and function in our society, but they don’t play a role in the deep meaning of existence that defines life. By leaving the faces almost blank and allowing the artwork to be exhibited with the figures upside-down, and thus free from rules and conventions, Rosier invites us to free our “functional sight” to reinstate a “primordial sight.”

We can “understand” what we are looking at only once we renounce the desire to interpret it. This attitude is linked to the traditions of Japanese haiku and Zen kōan, both very close to Rosier’s own practice, in which the simplicity and brevity of impressions provides depth and perfection. In this sense, interpretation is considered a descriptive cage that goes against the intention of suspending language.

at Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan 
until 5 May

 

Kimsooja “To Breathe – The Flags” 

Galleria Raffaella Cortese is thrilled to present Kimsooja’s fourth exhibition at the gallery since her first collaboration in 2004. It will run concurrently to her site-specific installation To Breathe for the Cappella Portinari at the Basilica di Sant’Eustorgio in Milan (March 10th – June 15th).

Kimsooja is an internationally acclaimed conceptual multi-disciplinary South Korean artist who has always identified nomadism as an unavoidable condition of contemporary being, drawing on her continuous movements as an indispensable source of material for the creation of her works. Combining performance, video, photography, and installation, her research is focused on themes that investigate the dualistic and existential nature of philosophy such as the relationship between yin and yang, life and death, mobility and immobilty, location and dislocation, developing her work around various fundamental issues of life, art and politics.

On the occasion of this exhibition Kimsooja presents two works that are strongly connected to each other: a video and an installation. The space at via Stradella 4 features the video To Breathe – The Flags, a transnational state of identity that merges two hundred forty-six national flags as indistinguishable cross-pollinating visual symbols, their purported intent—as symbols of state sovereignty and nationhood—emptied and reconfigured by layering and cross-fading. Since the images are semi‑transparent, the colors and designs of multiple flags are intermixed. What results is a visual and symbolic breakdown of hierarchies, and transcendence of boundaries blurring the distinctions between different countries. The work also includes flags from nations that are not internationally recognized, such as Scotland or Tibet, as well as nations whose flags are forbidden in other countries, such as North Korea. In merging the flags without restriction, To Breathe – The Flags provides a representation of the new nations or non-nations within its compressed layers, briefly dissolving their discrepancies and blurring their national identities. In the first iteration of this work, which was commissioned by the IOC Olympic Museum for the London 2012 Summer Olympics, the artist layered flags of all the participating countries in a reflection of the unifying spirit of the games.

To Breathe – Zone of Nowhere is showed at the space at via Stradella 1 and translates video stills from To Breathe – The Flags into unitary images: visitors can walk through the installation of twelve moving flags as if they were also interweaving between and beyond the national boundaries. The visitor, moving across the gallery, constantly shifts their own point of view: once again Kimsooja’s work shows a commitment to engage with the audience and inspire solidarity and respect for others by appealing to the sense of humanity we all possess.

The show is a wish for coexistence, bringing us closer to an ideal world in which individuals can unite in celebration of our distinctions and our common humanity. The work’s effect transforms the ubiquitous national symbol of the flag into a more tentative object, one that is provisional and fluid, without hierarchy or political bias, putting all nations on the same level: a visual experience in which differences and conflicts between nations can fuse and blend together as one. As Kimsooja said “I see myself as a completely independent person, independent from any belief, country, or religious background. I want to stand as a free individual who is open to the world.” It is in light of this philosophy that these flags, conceived in a kind of visual medias res, illustrate a state of perpetual becoming, frustrating the eye while accumulating in the mind. And this fluid state is what gives the work its power, suggesting a point of reference that is both nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

 

at Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan 
until 5 May

 

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