NEW IDOLS by Francesco De Molfetta at The Don Gallery [Milan]

Italy has a long rich history in the fine arts.  It is the country credited with the birth of the Renaissance movement and home to world famous venues such as the Vatican Museums and The Uffizi Gallery.  It’s a legacy that deserves every bit of respect that it garners, but there is a great amount of people who feel no connection to these ancient works and even more people who feel distanced by the term “art” in general.  Art is a class that you take at school; something coupled with “Literature” on a Trivial Pursuit game card.  It can become more of something to understand intellectually than emotionally.  For the last 30 or 40 yrs, the  Pop Surrealism, Lowbrow, Graffiti and Street Art worlds have challenged these constrictive ideas of what art is and who it’s for.  These are also the selected art-forms that Milan‘s Matteo Donini has been dedicated to showcasing since opening The Don Gallery in 2008.  This month’s exhibit at The Don, New Idols, is a refreshing venture into pop-culture by a young Milanese sculpture  by the name of Francesco De Molfetta.

Like myself, De Molfetta was born in 1979, the same year that Robert Williams has claimed credit for originally coining the term “Low-Brow“.  I don’t know what it was like in Italy, but I grew up in the U.S. during a time period where the concepts of “painting” and “sculpture” had the ability to feel simultaneously archaic and elitist.  Some people don’t know the difference between Mozart and Yanni and some people don’t know the difference between a Lichtenstein and a Nagel.  “Why is one timeless and the other dated bullshit?”  I grew up with films like Arthur, Mannequin, Less Than Zero and Wall Street, when people had dinner parties in cocaine-white condos with bold crayola accents and neon triangular disasters on their walls.  There were constant examples as to why “young money” is used as a derogatory term.  Art wasn’t for us, we were a generation that was supposed to be in bed early, because mommy was drinking her wine.  Most of what we were told about art was simply not to touch it.  We knew two things about the renaissance movement: that it was supposed to be “good” and “important” for some unexplained reason and that some of it’s pioneers shared their names with a quartet of anthropomorphic martial-arts practicing turtles.  Images like the Mona Lisa had been repeated to me like flash cards so that, by the time that I was able to use any sort of cognitive reasoning to construct an opinion of my own, the experiences were already tainted.  I already knew the ending.  I wore Generra hypercolor and T-Shirts by T&C Surf Designs, not some frilly-ass fancy elf garb of yore.  I didn’t truly understand that shit, let alone identify with it.  I was a kid in the 80‘s; I thought Erin Gray was hot, just like I was supposed to.  The Mona Lisa was an image of a plain woman from a less “civilized” time period.  I didn’t realize that art was all about the soul that was behind it, because I was being shown that it was something to own and that it was only really important because it was worth a shitload of money.  There is an idea that things lose “value” when anyone can have them.  Art became elitist and a privilege; a mark of social importance.  “Get that off the wall and lock it in my vault immediately!”  When everything else in the world is telling you to upgrade and embrace your technological destiny, ideas of literature, history, and art begin to feel like they are taught simply out of guilt by people who can’t remember the reasons why they are even important anymore, themselves.  Our baby-boomer coaches aren’t to blame for not explaining certain things, because they didn’t understand a lot of them either.  Still, they know how to “collect” and taught us how to “own”.  Eventually, products and consumerism took on a life of their own and, whether they intended to sell us a lie or not, many of the products that we’ve owned in our pasts did in fact become loaded with the individual importance that we’ve infused them with and still hold pieces to our personal identities.

When I refer to New Idols as “refreshing”, I don’t necessarily mean “original”, because the main topics being addressed in De Molfetta‘s solo show are far from anything revolutionary.  The symbolism and idolization in Capitalism are cornerstones of Pop-Art, but the ideas aren’t always presented effectively.  For example, Mr Brainwash‘s recent ICONS show in NYC appeared to be nothing more than a blatant imitation of Warhol, except without any apparent intention or point to it.  The aspect of re-imagining super-heroes in Francesco‘s exhibit has also been covered ,and extremely well, by artists like Ron English, Anthony Lister, and Gilles Barbier.  Most of all, what attracted me to these new images in The Don Gallery exhibit was the simple emotion behind it.  The work is light-hearted and compliments the genre nicley, as opposed to becoming something that does it a disservice or feels overly repetitive and redundant.  De Molfetta seems to enjoy what he’s doing and it comes across in the work.  It’s like the sculptor is saying, “Hey, I’m not going to talk down to you.  You get the idea.  We all know what this shit’s all about, so let’s focus on experiencing something that we can enjoy through it, instead of getting overly dramatic and making you feel like shit to prove a point.”  One particular thing that really interests me about the work is that it provides the ability to see how our culture here in the U.S. mixes with the perspective of someone from overseas.  Perhaps even more important is that it has alerted me to, not only, the career of an interesting new artist, but also a new venue that is sure to introduce me to even more.

Here are couple of things to note with the images below: Silvio Berlusconi is the Prime Minister of Italy and, while the word “pulizia” translates to “cleanliness” in English, the very similar sounding word “polizia” means “police.

NEW IDOLS only runs until May 3rd, but Matteo Donini was kind enough to send over the following images, for those of us that won’t be making our way to Italy within the next week or so.

To inquire about purchasing any of the pieces shown,
please contact The Don Gallery

[Many of the images below can be enlarged. Place cursor over them and look for hand tool]

Fatman [2010]

100cm high
resin and fiberglass

Bubble Dux [2009]

51 cm high
Unique Bronze

Etc [2009]

95 cm

GUNDAMA  [2010]

120 cm high
Resin and fiberglass


SNACK BARbie [2009]

22cm high
Barbie Doll and Mixed Media


50 cm diameter
Unique Ceramic and Mirror

KING PORN  [2009]

53 cm high
Unique Ceramic


35 cm high
Alluminium and Mixed Media


CANEDI [2009]

80cm high
Resin, Gesso and Fiberglass


13 cm high
Mixed Media


100 cm high


100 cm high
Mixed Media

Dead C

Located in Seattle, Dead C is the founder/editor, as well as the principal writer and photographer, of Monster Fresh. Creating the site in 2007, he did so with a specific dream in mind. Unfortunately, being a muscle relaxer-fueled fever dream, it's hard to recall all of the details. "I remember that my mom was there, but it wasn't actually her in the dream, it was actually 70s heart throb, Jan Michael Vincent. And everything took place here, in this room... but it wasn't actually here... it was different. The colors were washed out and, for some reason, there was a raccoon kicking it with us and it was wearing a holographic monocle."

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