To Leave Earth / Lasciare la Terra
Kate Kosek, Maureen O'Leary, Macon Reed, and Samantha Robinson
Palazzina Liberty, Bologna, Italy May 24-27, 2018. Vernissage, Thursday, May 24, 6:30-8:30 Gallery hours Friday-Saturday 10am – 6pm, Sunday 1pm-6pm.
Palazzina Liberty Giardini Margherita Piazzale Jacchia 1/4 (access from the back) Bologna, Italy, 40137
To leave earth, in a dream or in a human-made vessel, is an innate ambition. Whether inspired by desperation, mischief, patriotism or wanderlust, the contraptions we create to assist us are both splendid and foolish. As the example of amateur astronomers who supported the Fabio Muzzi Giovagnoni astronomical observatory of Giardini Margherita attested, this desire for exploration is often for the love of it.
Four American artists from the Wayfarers collective in Brooklyn, New York, guests of the collective Antonello Ghezzi, create a crucible for the multifaceted love of escape - how you might get away, what you might take with you, how you stand on the shoulders of giants, and whether you will come back at all.
Escape starts with the quotidian where the dream is nurtured, perhaps at night, looking from a window. Landscapes, the very stuff that forms the immediate, tactile surroundings of people, are the first frontiers of disappearance. Props of our modern culture have a limited sophistication to serve our primal urges to see beyond. Those inventions, our best plans and executions, are almost charming in that they still do not rival the mighty, extraterrestrial origins of mass and energy. Human-made innovations also feed a tribal engagement to escape together. In search of the new we are simultaneously reminded, wherever we look, of the mess we've made of the resources we have. The architecture, including the staircases, archways and terrazzi of Palazzina Liberty, has invited communication across lands, eras, and elements.
Kate Kosek’s immersive installation on the second-floor terrazzo is an inaugural departure from her familiar practice of painting on two dimensional surfaces. Her work focuses on sensory perception and meditation through formal systemic compositions. Inspired by NASA’s space fabric, a 3D printed and dual-purpose aluminum textile, Kosek hand crocheted and assembled her own grid structure made of cotton twine and digitally printed Plexiglas. “Fade Place” is an outdoor, daytime alternative to a planetarium experience. Reminiscent of stained glass windows, her aerial sculpture is activated by the sun and encourages the viewer to interact with the work by allowing the colors and patterns to be cast upon themselves. In a society that has become technologically obsessed, she is prompting individuals to look up from their screens to imagine what exists in and beyond the natural world.
Maureen O'Leary's paintings explore different elements of human reach. In embracing the generous invitation to exhibit in the architectural grandeur of the Palazzina Liberty – she asks, what does the United States have to answer such magnificence? Her response is to bring forward reflections of the country’s original natural state, its parks and their rare species. She painted an almost life-size rendition of giant California redwood pine trees in lurid colors and expressive strokes. These ancient trees, some of the oldest species on earth, are one of the treasures of United States. Installed free-standing, by a wooden support, the painting brings a gift of nature but one that has passed through the artist’s hand. Additionally, she has painted a radio tower glowing at night, emitting signals for our tiny analogue televisions and radios. The painting records the privacy of dark that lets one stare, unseen, at glowing devices that become touchingly tender and feeble despite their actual dominance over human scale.
Macon Reed will hang a hand-made solar system in the beautiful spiral staircase of Palazzina Liberty. In doing so she asks us to think about what daily life could be if we engaged our imaginations, and how escape contrasts with adventure. In this moment where much of humanity is in peril physically and psychologically, her work expands our ideas of what is possible, what it means to live, and what we have not imagined yet. Forging connections with the Palazzina Liberty's history creates communication across time and with eras past, present, and future.
Finally, Samantha Robinson is interested in how a painting can both physically and immaterially transcend the viewer past its surface. The new work for this show will be supported on free-standing structures that reference the archways and porticos of historic Bologna, themselves ‘mini-skys’. Grommets in the corners of these works recall sails and flags, symbols of voyages between new and old worlds. The work has a dreamy transparency derived from the layers of silkscreen mesh, a technique she has explored in numerous other paintings. Titles are derived from tone poems by Ottorino Respighi, a 20th century composer and musicologist native to Bologna.
Accompanying the show is a limited edition portfolio of digital UV prints by the artists.