Kellie Miller Arts, Brighton, United Kingdom
September 21 - October 7, 2019
By RAPHY SARKISSIAN, October 2019
Haunting nostalgia, industrialization, isolation, urbanism, existential gloom, signs of resilience: these are a few of the realities suggested by the arresting landscape paintings of the Italian artist Marco Minozzi. Having mastered the techniques of the time-honored tradition of the veduta—the genre of cityscape or a given vista—through his studies and early practice in Rome and Vicenza, Minozzi has been producing his paintings mainly in Florence for the past decade, before which his studio was based amidst Siena and Arezzo in Tuscany for about a decade.
While the subject matter and styles of such Old Masters of the landscape genre as Claude Lorrain, Rembrandt, Marco Ricci and Canaletto are evident in the prolific oeuvre of Minozzi, his landscapes convey the morose conditions of post-industrial architecture, along with partly imaginary urban settings of Italy and beyond. The motif of the intrusive utility pole with electrical cable or the bluntness of industrial architecture, for instance, also attaches his paintings to contemporary masters of pictorial representation, recalling streetscapes by Antonio López Garcia (Street of Santa Rita, 1961) and Gerhard Richter (Townscape Madrid, 1968).
Such themes as the mid-twentieth century cityscape, suburban townscape and modern urban decay, often paired with architectural remnants of the far past, recur in the paintings of Minozzi. Through imagery culled from the New German Cinema, in particular the photography and films of Wim Wenders, the dejected cityscapes and industrialized panoramas of Minozzi convey overall impressions of profoundly alienated spaces of the past century.
Yet lurking behind the predominating sense of estrangement in the depiction of a townscape by Minozzi, there are also eerie signs of cultural resilience through such representations as active traffic lights, bright street lights, the stop sign and water-filled potholes that act as uncanny mirrors reflecting fragments of architecture. The pictorial poetics of Minozzi deftly punctuate the bleakness of industrialization, calling into mind Martin Heidegger’s critique of technology: “the more questioningly we ponder the essence of technology, the more mysterious the essence of art becomes. The closer we come to the danger, the more brightly do the ways into the saving power begin to shine and the more questioning we become.”1
The thought-provoking and engaging paintings of Minozzi, such as East River, Fog, and Silent Tower, call to mind the albumen prints of Panorama of San Francisco from California Street Hill (1877) of Eadweard Muybridge. In such instances, Minozzi enacts inescapable dialogues between painting and photography, drawing the viewer’s gaze beyond the medium of oil into a conceptual realm wherein the craft of the Old Masters and the ever-changing mediums of pictorial representation at once coalesce and remain detached. Each urban landscape of Minozzi manifests an absorbing historical trajectory of painting, while it unquestionably conveys the strains of urbanization sweeping through cities. WM
1. Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, trans. William Lovitt (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1977), p. 35.
Thumbnail caption: Marco Minozzi, East River, 2019. Oil on canvas, 27 ½ by 39 ½ inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Kellie Miller Arts, Brighton, United Kingdom.
Raphy Sarkissian received his masters in studio arts from New York University and is currently affiliated with the School of Visual Arts in New York. His recent writings on art include essays for exhibition catalogues, monographs and reviews. He has written on Rachel Lee Hovnanian, Anish Kapoor, KAWS, David Novros, Sean Scully, Liliane Tomasko, Dan Walsh and Jonas Wood. He can be reached through his website www.raphysarkissian.com.view all articles from this author