Artist Giulio Paolini’s Latest Works Play Hide-and-Seek With Art-Historical Masterpieces—See Images From His New Show Here

In his exhibition at Alfonso Artiaco, the artist mixes references to Manet, Watteau, and De Chirico into conceptual puzzles.

Installation view
Installation view "Giulio Paolini: Fuori quadro" 2021. Courtesy of Alfonso Artiaco.

Giulio Paolini likes to play with the past, dotting references from art history, the ancient world, and mythology into his conceptually based works. The artist, now in his 80s, has often been aligned with Arte Povera, but theater and its exploration of artifice play heavily into his oeuvre as well, as is evident in his new exhibition Fuori quadro” at Alfonso Artiaco Gallery in Naples.

Paolini has debuted four works made especially for the show, along with several never-before-seen collages. In one, an Icarus, plucked from a 17th-painting at the Prado, falls against a blue flag, behind which appears a photograph of the ocean at sunset. In another work, the figure of Jean-Antoine Watteau’s Pierrot—the sad clown of the Italian opera—is cast against a bright red theatrical curtain. This image rests atop an empty gilt frame, which rests atop a wooden chair, a gold cloth draped over it. The scene gives the impression of an actor in his or her dressing room, or just having hurriedly left. 

Installation view "Giulio Paolini: Fuori Quadro" 2021. Courtesty of Alfonso Artiaco.

Installation view “Giulio Paolini: Fuori quadro” 2021. Courtesty of Alfonso Artiaco.

An illusory quality permeates many of these works. Several chairs figure into the exhibition, often scattered and toppled on the floor. Visitors might have the feeling of just having missed some occurrence, or just catching the glimpse of someone turning a corner.

In Giove e Antiope, a work based on Watteau’s Jupiter et Antiope (1715–16), the body of Antiope (Jupiter’s object of desire) is depicted in scattered fragments at the center of the canvas, as though dissolving. This is all very intentional—the exhibition title, “Fuori Quadro,” translates literally to “out of the picture.” For Paolini, these references to the past aren’t static, but always moving, through our minds and memories, recreating themselves.  

“Some artists have a particular attitude towards images—rather than offering them, they wait for them at a certain distance. Mine is an undifferentiated reception, a memory that wants to draw on the making itself of the artwork,” Paolini said of the exhibition’s ephemeral quality. “I am attracted by the myth of why art is made”

See images from “Giulio Paolini: Fuori quadro” below.

Installation view "Giulio Paolini: Fuori Quadro" 2021. Courtesty of Alfonso Artiaco.

Installation view “Giulio Paolini: Fuori quadro” 2021. Courtesty of Alfonso Artiaco.

Installation view "Giulio Paolini: Fuori Quadro" 2021. Courtesty of Alfonso Artiaco.

Installation view “Giulio Paolini: Fuori quadro” 2021. Courtesty of Alfonso Artiaco.

Installation view "Giulio Paolini: Fuori Quadro" 2021. Courtesty of Alfonso Artiaco.

Installation view “Giulio Paolini: Fuori quadro” 2021. Courtesty of Alfonso Artiaco.

Installation view "Giulio Paolini: Fuori Quadro" 2021. Courtesty of Alfonso Artiaco.

Installation view “Giulio Paolini: Fuori quadro” 2021. Courtesty of Alfonso Artiaco.

Giulio Paolini: Fuori quadro” is an ongoing exhibition at Alfonso Artiaco.


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