Preview: Marco Mazzoni “Immune” @ Thinkspace Gallery [Culver City, CA]

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“Malalingua”
Colored pencils on paper
15.75 x 23.5″

It’s been a few years now since we initially became aware of Italy‘s Marco Mazzoni.  I don’t remember the exact moment that I first saw one of his pieces — I believe that it was probably just prior to the artist being featured on the cover of issue #20 of Hi Fructose magazine (July 2011) — but I do know that his highly recognizable aesthetic has stayed with me ever since and that every time I have come across anything of his since, I immediately knew exactly whose work I was looking at.  The women that reoccur in his work generally do so without eyes, whether they are simply blocked out and shadowed, or absent altogether.  Primarily just featuring their heads with the occasional incorporation of hands or a more inclusive bust, the faces of the subjects are typically shrouded in plantlife, such as orchids and  lilies, and/or enveloped by birds or butterflies.  There’s something compelling about gazing directly at any entity that doesn’t appear to have the ability to look back at you, as well as a disconcerting feeling as if they know that you’re observing them and are suspicious of your presence and intentions.Piercing through a nondescript void, the figures deliver a strong balance between mortal life and death, the physical and the intangible.  Whether these natural elements of plant and animal grow from within these subjects, commandeering the vessels like an oak breaking through concrete, or are instinctually drawn to them like cascading vines on abandoned brick and mortar, these organic components genuinely seem to empower their hosts, whether they do so by default or otherwise.  As much as they may appear to obstruct the physical senses of these women, on one hand, it feels as if they bring new, perhaps even “purer,” life to these dead-eyed specimens, a life that draws from the less tangible senses and exists outside of a strictly physical plane.  It’s as if the subjects are presented in frozen states wherein the realization of existence is both instant and absolute.  And depending on the particular subject featured in each particular piece, the way that they react to this highly sensual, holistic experience and realization of instantaneity and being is captured and distilled into moments that reflect a range of emotions that encompass anything from apprehension, terror, and confusion to uninhibited wonder, assured confidence, analytical contemplation, or even zen-like understanding.  One of the craziest aspects in these works for me, personally, is that some of these women occasionally look dead-on like my own mother.  But, perhaps even crazier than that is the reality that Mazzoni creates these works, and the respective effects that they generate, by working in the incredibly surprising and generally under-appreciated medium of color pencils.

Of course, all of this worthless jibber-jabber is really just nothing more than a explanation for what I personally feel when I look at the art.  The way that Marco implies weight and texture in his pieces, how feathers, wings or petals can seem so heavy, yet uplifting, feeling simultaneously like a burden and a release, oppressive yet elevating, feeds into the tension and duality of the work.  But, all of that is still over-analysis being employed for no other reason than to say that I’m honestly not sure exactly what this artist wants to present, or even what I have to offer to the conversation other than that I feel something within them when I see these pieces.  Certain bloated and potentially concrete elements feel as if they are being smothered out, simply so that the spirit can be released and that essence can be inhaled by the observer.  And for those that are into observing the artist’s work first hand and are, or will be, in the Culver City/Los Angeles area this month, the Thinkspace Gallery is hosting a solo exhibit for Marco Mazzoni titled Immune which opens tomorrow (November 8, 2014).

We have preview images for the entire exhibit below, but first, here is some more detailed art-related jive-talk directly from the press release — I’m sure that it probably breaks things down as far as process and intention in a manner that’s a little more thorough than that I’m either able or willing to provide.



Thinkspace presents Immune, the gallery’s first solo exhibition of works by Italian artist Marco Mazzoni. A graduate of the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, Mazzoni has established himself internationally with his unique mastery of dry media. Using a medium often derided for its lack of sophistication, Mazzoni creates superbly detailed works with only colored pencils; drawings made with Faber Castells that could rival the painted chiaroscuro techniques of the old masters. Increasingly lauded worldwide for the transformative finesse of his style and the haunting tenor of his imagery, Mazzoni’s hypnotic works unveil an ornate sensibility fraught with terror and beauty.
Inspired by ancient Sardinian folklore and its oral traditions of storytelling, Mazzoni’s symbolic imagery began with an interest in Sardinia’s matriarchal culture, specifically its tradition of female herbalists and healers from the 16th to 18th Centuries. A history recounted and preserved through these endemic forms of narrative, the feminine occupied a privileged and feared place in the cultural imaginary, synonymous with both healing and malediction. These oppositions continue to fascinate Mazzoni and influence his imagery. The female figures in his works, always anonymous and symbolic rather than specific, are swathed and shrouded by an encyclopedic abundance of flora and fauna: tendrils descend, wings protrude, flowers drip and bleed from mouths. At once sybaritic and vaguely abject, these feminine figures emerge and recede in varying states of parasitic bondage or rising eminence. Overwhelmed by flowers and birds, they are darkly apparitions that remind us, in all their terrifying beauty, of the sublime hostility of nature and its mercurial threat of change and transformation. The works seem to border on chaos, but artfully return to a measure of balance and equilibrium.
 
Mazzoni’s ability to convey palpable gradations of light and dark, the tactility of texture and weight, and the viscera of depth and flesh, owes a great debt to his mastery of materials. The artist’s unique pencil technique involves the painstaking application of several underdrawings to achieve painterly accretions of color and depth. With each subsequent addition or layer, Mazzoni applies an entire veil of color overall to attain the inky obscurity of his blacks and the vibrant opacity of his colors, creating thick sediments of pigment. In keeping with classical European training methods, Mazzoni has also undertaken the meticulous study of moody chiaroscuro and tenebrism techniques from the likes of Ribera and Goya, replicating works and by these historical masters to emulate their command of extreme contrasts. Mazzoni’s works embody a deep respect for technique that truly animates his shadowy world of beauty and discomfort. These drawings breathe, palpitate and hum with a darkly sensibility. As sensual as they are anxiety inducing, these works are like living ancients hovering in some long lost recess of time.

Immune
will feature several new works by the artist, including a series of his moleskine animal drawings. Exploring the ageless themes of loss, transformation, memory, and mourning, Mazzoni’s imagery continues to delve into a wealth of natural symbolism, conjuring endless permutations of change. While evoking these themes from ancient cultural narratives, the artist reminds us of their continued human resonance. In Mazzoni’s words, it is the constancy of pain that ensures our immunity to it and our eventual return to balance: “human beings need to move forward, and the endurance of pain makes you grow, ultimately allowing you to be immune.” Fittingly, in Immune the sublime proximity of beauty and pain is undeniable.  


 

Check out preview images for the exhibit below the following event details…

WHAT:

Immune
Solo art exhibit by Marco Mazzoni

WHEN:

Opening:
Saturday, November 8th

6pm-9pm

WHERE:

Thinkspace Gallery
86009 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232 

 

ADDITIONAL INFO:

Opening is ALL AGES w/NO COVER
Show on view until November 29, 2014
Gallery hours: Tues – Sat. noon – 6pm
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/568408233289492/


[click select images to enlarge]

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“L’Enfant Sauvage II”
Colored pencils on paper
8.25 x 11.75″

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“Here Comes The Pain”
Colored pencils on paper
8.25 x 11.75″

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“Malalingua II”
Colored pencils on paper
7.75 x 12.25″

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“Atropine”
Colored pencils on paper
11.75 x 11.75″

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“Phosphene”
Colored pencils on paper
15.75 x 19.75″

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“Dysphonia”
Colored pencils on paper
17.75 x 11.75″

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“Martyr”
Colored pencils on paper
15.75 x 19.75″

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“Phosphene”
Colored pencils on paper
15.75 x 19.75″

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“The Feathered Fog”
Colored pencils on paper
9.5 x 13″

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“The Junkies”
Colored pencils and ink on moleskine paper
7 x 5.5″

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“Danse Macabre”
Colored pencils and ink on moleskine paper
7 x 5.5″

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“The Deejay”
Colored pencils and ink on moleskine paper
10.25 x 8.25″

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“Bad Trip”
Colored pencils and ink on moleskine paper
8.25 x 10.25″

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“The Fisherman”
Colored pencils and ink on moleskine paper
5.5 x 7″

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“The Father II”
Colored pencils and ink on moleskine paper
5.5 x 7″

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“Aquarium”
Colored pencils and ink on moleskine paper
7 x 5.5″

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“Aquarium II”
Colored pencils and ink on moleskine paper
10.25 x 8.25″

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“The Father”
Colored pencils and ink on moleskine paper
10.25 x 8.25″

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“Eat your Dreams”
Colored pencils and ink on moleskine paper
5.5 x 7″

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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