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Almine Rech Gallery London: FRANCESCO VEZZOLI's Eternal Kiss - 8 Sept 2015 to 3 Oct 2015

Current Exhibition

8 Sept 2015 to 3 Oct 2015

Almine Rech Gallery

11 Savile Row, Mayfair
United Kingdom

Eternal Kiss
September 8 - October 3, 2015

Artists in this exhibition: Francesco Vezzoli

Eternal Kiss

September 8 - October 3, 2015 / London
Opening on Tuesday, September 8th
6 - 8 pm

Almine Rech Gallery is pleased to present Francesco Vezzoli's second solo exhibition with the gallery. This exhibition will be on view from the 8th of September to the 3rd of October, 2015. 

The strategies of aesthetic and conceptual play at work throughout Francesco Vezzoli’s expansive oeuvre are predominantly dedicated to dissecting received notions of beauty. Laced with humour, much of Vezzoli’s work interrogates how and why beauty has been attributed to certain artworks and artifacts at different times. For his new sculpture, ‘Eternal Kiss’, exhibited for the first time at Almine Rech Gallery, Vezzoli acquired two life size marble heads at auction: a Roman portrait of a man (circa the 2nd Century A.D), and a Roman portrait of a woman (Imperial, Hadrianic, circa 117-138 A.D). Both heads have been restored to their original status through a meticulous process of fabrication underpinned by spec ialist advice from eminent archeologists in the field. In this sense, ‘Eternal Kiss’ further develops the ideas of beauty and the artifact explored in Vezzoli’s ‘Teatro Romano’ presented at PS1 in New York earlier this year.

Vezzoli explains how “the main objective of ‘Eternal Kiss’ is to use the process of aesthetic restoration to reenact a fictional kiss from two thousand years ago.” ‘Eternal Kiss’ has, Vezzoli continues, two main aims: “the first is to restore to the heads the notion that originally they were made to function as objects of desire; the second, and more ambitious, aim of the work is to create the most ancient sculpture of a kiss in existence.”

The fabrication process through which the ‘Eternal Kiss’ has been realized is an unusually aggressive one for such rarified ancient artifacts. Vezzoli elucidates on how he is “acting like a facial surgeon – giving the heads back their beauty by mending broken elements, like noses. A sort of nip and tuck,” says Vezzoli, “allowing the heads to be in sensual dialogue with one another. It is as if I’m preparing them for a selfie,” he says.

By way of contrast to the aesthetic and conceptual play driving the conception and the production of the work, Vezzoli explains how “consulting with specialist archaeologists gives the fabrication process - and consequently the finished work - an edge it would otherwise lack. To paint over and remodel the heads without any sense of historical context would be merely gratuitous.” For Vezzoli, these very different approaches are congruent with their respective professions: “I’m an artist,” he states, “and they are archaeologists: while I’m there to explore certain emotions, they are there to identify and then verify historical facts.” Without this tension ‘Eternal Kiss’ would lack the sense of conceptual precision so crucial to Vezzoli’s work.
Vezzoli’s method of approaching ancient sculptures draws on the way early collectors and curators prioritized aesthetic effect over scientific accuracy: by, for instance, attaching a Renaissance body to an ancient head to recreate a sense of beauty that a mutilated head would not convey. Even a highly respected scholar like Johann Winklemann took this approach as late as the mid-eighteenth century. Vezzoli describes how he “takes for granted the fact that this approach was normal practice a few hundred years ago when museums did not yet have such a hyper protective attitude to the ancient artifacts in their collections.”

For the present exhibition, every detail of the heads and their presentation has been placed under scrutiny. “Because of this attention to the minutia of detail,” says Vezzoli, “the exhibition will focus on the objects themselves. ‘Eternal Kiss’ will become nothing less than the most ancient sculpture of a kiss in existence. It’s as simple – or as complicated – as that,” concludes Vezzoli.

Alex Coles

Francesco Vezzoli (b. 1971, Brescia, Italy) lives and works in Milan. Recent solo exhibitions include 'Teatro Romano', MoMA PS1, New York, USA (2014); 'Cinema Vezzoli', MOCA, Los Angeles, USA (2013); ‘Galleria Vezzoli', MAXXI, Rome (2013); ‘The Museum of Crying Women’, QMA, Doha, Qatar (2013); 'Olga Forever', Almine Rech Gallery, Brussels (2012); 24H MUSEUM, in collaboration with the Prada Foundation, Palais de Iena, Paris (2012); ‘Francesco Vezzoli: Ballets Russes Italian Style’, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2009); ‘Dalì Dalì featuring Francesco Vezzoli’, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2009); ‘Right You Are, If You Think You Are’, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA (2007); and ‘Francesco Vezzoli: Marlene Redux A True Hollywood Story! (Part One)’, Tate Modern, London (2006).
Recent group exhibitions include 'Dans un Intérieur. Meubles, oeuvres murales et textiles d'artistes', Almine Rech Gallery Brussels (2015) and Almine Rech Gallery, Paris (2014); ‘In Part’ and ‘An Introduction’, Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy (2015); Venice Biennial, Italy (2014, 2007, 2005 & 2001); ‘Whitney Biennial 2006: Day for Night' (curated by Chrissie Iles & Philippe Vergne), The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA (2006); 'Short History of Performance IV', Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2006).In 2015, Francesco Vezzoli will be part of PERFORMA 15, New York, USA; ‘Picasso Mania', Grand Palais, Paris and 'After Picasso: 80 Contemporary Artists' Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, USA. The artist will show a film piece interprated by Cindy Sherman and created for 'Prima Donna', a touring symphonic visual concert by Rufus Wainwright premiering at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Athens (15/09/2015). 


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Almine Rech Gallery
11 Savile Row, Mayfair
W1S 3PG London, UK

Tuesday - Saturday (10 am - 6 pm)

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