Oh! You pretty things
Marco Grassi show at Porto Montenegro, from August 16 to August 31
The August 16, 2016 the Museum of Porto Montenegro will inaugurate the exhibition Oh! You pretty things of Marco Grassi, produced and organized by the Italian art gallery Liquid art system - founded by Franco Senesi - in collaboration with Gayo Gallerie and will be open until 31 August.
For this exhibition in Montenegro, the artist has chosen to create a full set of new works that bring to completion an iconographic and technical research that was started about 3 years ago.
During the summer of 2013, Marco Grassi - inspired by a journey to Russia - started to study methods and symbols relating to the use of the golden background in figurative painting. During the autumn of the same year, the artist presented his first portraits with the golden background at an exhibition in Istanbul. These works achieved immediate resounding success with the audience and critics, who were discovering the ancient times mystical charm. In Istanbul, as well as in Russia, these new works were continuing the past Byzantine - later Slavic - artistic tradition that passed on to us up to nowadays thanks to popular devotion.
In the dualism between shaped and shapeless, between detail and chaos, which is always present in Marco Grassi's works, gold becomes an element of mediation that - as in Byzantine icons - is the symbol of what cannot be represented. As in the Byzantine artistic culture the golden background - originally used in mosaics then transferred to board painting - had been able to merge the iconoclastic tradition with the need to go back to the figurative representation, in Marco Grassi's research the golden background was an interesting and unexpected element of connection between figurative and abstract: an extreme abstraction achieved through an idea of such an extreme figurative representation that it becomes impossible to represent: all shapes and colours come from gold... extreme light, extreme detail...
Just like in mosaics and Byzantine icons, Marco Grassi interprets the lyric of light through the use of gold, by which images from reality are projected into an abstract and ultra-sensitive dimension turning into something transcendent. Portraits of young women therefore become feminine icons with mystical charm, whose looks - as an extended projection of his own one - can be used by the artist to intercept the viewer and his/her world by "reversing the perspective" (peculiar feature of votive icons according to Florenskij).
In Montenegro, boundary territory between the Greek-Byzantine culture and the Slavic one, Marco Grassi aims at bringing his icons back to the cultural context that started his research. Nevertheless, in the new exhibition, Grassi's icons are accompanied by a new series of iconic works that are successfully contaminated by the pop culture in their trip to the western world.
In the exhibition at Porto Montenegro, the great news is the golden background also on canvases. Nevertheless, in these works, the portrayed characters - as in previous canvases - are distinguished by personal hairstyles and clothes that are an extension of their own inner being, by contributing to identify tastes and mind attitudes. The contamination between the "sacred" origin of the golden background and the "profane" attitudes of the pop culture creates a strange and interesting visual contrast which raises a reflection about the mixture of models that wade in the modern idea of the concept of "icon".