Bringing together a variety of mediums and styles, the works on the walls of Now and Forward weave together stories of mark making; the free-standing sculptural pieces investigate texture and humor. Upon entering the exhibit, viewers are asked, “Dove va l’humanita?” on an eye-catching oblique mirror—the kind used to see around corners—immediately inviting both literal and figurative self-reflection while wittily placing us at a “turning point”. This interactive piece by Valeriana Berchicci has the most obvious connection to the title of the show, uniting the ancient with the present and the prescient.
On the wall facing the postcard display, a far less didactic—in fact, completely obscure—question seems to be asked, and answered, through abstract forms on fluttering pieces of paper. This piece by Sofia Ricciardi simultaneously creates and explores a lexicon of shapes and marks, each adding a self-contained phrase to the wall’s larger conversation. Standing in front of this visual conversation is strikingly redolent of listening to a lively conversation in a language you don’t speak, an experience that is urgently relevant to the main audience of Now and Forward.
Displayed with just enough space between their pedestals to carefully walk between, a collection of pears eloquently suspended in resin evoke the retro-futuristic aspic world of the 1950s. Slow Motion begs to be touched, but renders the viscerally juicy intangible twofold: through a physical barrier, as well as the conceptual one of “art status”. The quiet humor of this piece is complimented by three goofy, rumpled heads emerging from the floor, wearing toothy smiles—or are they grimaces? Great Personalities effectively provides comic relief for Now and Forward, which only makes the show feel more contemporary; the absurd heads feel almost meme-like in their ability to delight without much substance.
The quietest sculpture in the room is a companion piece to a series of graphite drawings of hands in various positions. A close-cropped video of the same hands knitting is hidden inside a small side table, presented without instruction. This peephole setup is reminiscent of Duchamp’s Étant donnés, though the surprise view of Il cassetto feels wholesome and comforting, rather than nauseatingly ominous.
The back wall of the second gallery has a clear flow from pure abstraction, to abstracted figures, to simplified, planar figures, to the anatomical sketches by Claudia Roma. This storyline is compelling in how clearly it illustrates the variety of ways contemporary artists are dealing with representation in their work.
The placement of the smaller drawings and paintings by Corina Surdu echoes their hidden, secret qualities: they are the last things you see in the show. Her pencil drawings are stark, haunting, and almost post-apocalyptic, but her watercolors bubble with the promise of a colorful tomorrow; a dichotomy that encapsulates Now and Forward.