Soft Power: Rosso, Morandi, Ziegler
“There are certain painters who self-consciously make images that work on two levels: they can be totally figurative and totally abstract at the same time. In their work, there is an image, a subject matter, but this image simultaneously falls apart. There is another level, another image underneath it.” - Toby Ziegler
Tommaso Calabro Gallery is pleased to announce the exhibition "Soft Power: Rosso, Morandi, Ziegler", where nine new paintings and two new sculptures by British artist Toby Ziegler (1972) will present his personal reading of the work of two Italian masters, Medardo Rosso (1858-1928) and Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964). In spite of temporal, geographic and intrinsic differences between their oeuvre, Ziegler detects a common denominator: a fluid dialogue between figuration and abstraction, which also stands at the core of his own work. Throughout his career, Medardo Rosso experimented with the infinite potential of matter, reproducing a limited number of sculptures in different media (bronze, gesso and his iconic wax). By continuously repeating the same subjects with slight variations, he longed to capture the fleeting moment. The contours of his sculptures seem to evaporate; it is unclear whether their subjects are emerging from or sinking into unformed matter. In photographing his own works, blurring their contours and altering their dimensions, Rosso was a pioneer in addressing ideas of authorship, originality and reproducibility of the work of art. Image repetition and alteration also characterises the oeuvre of Giorgio Morandi. From the 1920s, the artist devoted himself to painting few recurrent objects: bottles, vases, pitchers, glasses and jars. Morandi’s choice to constantly depict these subjects originated from the awareness that the structure of reality is nothing but a continuous mutation within the present. With their vibrant brushstrokes and trembling contours, Morandi’s still lives are representations of themselves, of the surface of reality that coincides with that of the canvas. By painting recognisable objects and depriving them of their original function, Morandi narrates the abstract reality of painting. At the core of Toby Ziegler’s art is the digital circulation, transmission and transformation of images, especially of works of art, and the resulting loss of their original meaning and content. Blurring the lines between figuration and abstraction, his work speaks of the disappearance of the mother image, which survives in its various forms of reproduction. As to Morandi, figuration is to Ziegler the fundamental means for investigating an abstract reality. Like Rosso’s sculptures, Ziegler’s creations seem to inhabit a liminal space: are they losing definition or assuming a shape?