Dazed Digital

Rome / Italiano

Viva La Muerte!

March 30, 2012

The prolific young Roman artist Gianni Politi unveils his hauntingly skeletal one-day exhibition

  • Text by Satellite Voices

Guest Feature by Cecilia Musmeci

"Viva La Muerte!" is the title of the new one-day exhibition from the young Roman artist Gianni Politi recently opened to the public. On the insides of the paintings, the study of an image is repeated in endless and evocative variations. The nine monumental paintings depicting human skeletons are arranged in the majestic space of the Biblioteca Casanatese (a very old library), enclosed by wooden caskets and towering shelves, similar to the aisles of a church. The audience is faced with a visual via crucis, where a repeated melody of dissected and exploded bodies leads to the mysterious silence of the last canvas. Lights play a key role, leading the eye from the mist of the shadows to an explosion of colour, in which the eye, drunk with colour, transcends the canvas, lost in the mystique of iridescent pigments. "Viva la muerte!" sings a hymn to the vitality of the fall, the yield strength, the irrepressible energy of failure.

Satellite Voices: Gianni, when did you start painting?
Gianni Politi: When I was in college. I studied philosophy and I had a lot of free time.

SV: In the show's title you quote a Basilica in Venice, what does Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari  mean to you?
Gianni Politi: The reference to the basilica is symbolic and conceptual. They said that the English painter William Turner visited Santa Maria Gloriorsa dei Frari and – facing the Tiziano's 'Assumption' – he chooses to stay there and tell the decline of the city of Venice through colors and paintings. Since the project "Viva la Muerte!" comes from my need to celebrate an object that will be destined to disappear from my memory, I wanted to create something that was somehow intimately and aesthetically epic. After completing the eight paintings in black and white, I felt the need for an ending that was high and lyrical, so the last canvas was born thinking about the wonder of Turner who described the death through colours. Arranged like the blades of an altar, not facing the audience but to inspire the choir for better singing.

SV: The Library Casanatese is perhaps one of the most incredible and least exploited areas that the city of Rome has to offer, how did you get the idea to set "Viva la Muerte!" right there?
Gianni Politi: In my research I've been often interested in anatomy and bones, thinking them as remnants and memory of a concrete existence. I always liked / bought / consulted texts of anatomy. Moreover, the passion for drawing led me to look for more and more old prints and drawings, so I went to the Casanatese, which has one of the most important and oldest archive of ancient books about medicine. 

SV: Indeed the exhibition showcases ancient books of anatomy with some old pictures of the human body, what is relationship between them?
Gianni Politi: The formal relationship is quite obvious: both the texts that the paintings contain depictions of human bodies, skeletons, anatomical models. The aesthetic relationship, however, is completely different. In my job the description of images is warm and thus becomes an emotional story about death. Instead in the anatomy volumes there's only a rigorous scientific coldness. It was this very interesting circuit that was emerging that led us to expose them.

SV: So it was yours the choice of exibhiting the texts?
Gianni Politi: Yes, me and Costanza Paissan curator of the exhibition.

SV: Can you reveal the symoblic value of the skeletons represented in your paintings?
Gianni Politi: That skeleton is me, in some way. Today is just a plastic dusty object left in a corner of my study which has remained motionless for at least five years. Tomorrow it will be in a cellar and I'll never see him again. But it still left a mark on me, even in its stillness.

SV: You are quite young but you already had several shows, what do you think about the art scene that has been recently developed in Rome?
Gianni Politi: I'm happy because we have a museum like the MACRO which is very sensitive to the local production and to the most courageous and contemporary artistic research. My regret is that there are very few young artists with whom I relate to. So I think the system functions like this: competitive museums and galleries, sincere collectors and young and though curators. However, I think that the generation of artists active in Rome today is distributed over too wide a range of age. That's why sometimes I consider myself a young-old-man.

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