Paolo Canevari "Decalogo"

The Drawing Center

poster for Paolo Canevari "Decalogo"

This event has ended.

The Drawing Center announces Paolo Canevari: Decalogo, on view in a specially designed Drawing Room located within the Main Gallery from April 22–June 24, 2011. This recent body of work by Paolo Canevari (b. 1963, Rome) was originally commissioned and exhibited by the Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica (ING) in Rome in October 2008. Comprised of ten large-scale etched plates, this presentation extends the thesis of the concurrent exhibition, Drawing and its Double: Selections from the Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica, by displaying plates without their resultant prints. Decalogo, the Italian shorthand for the Ten Commandments and perhaps the most well-known social contract or “rules to live by,” continues Canevari’s investigation into how dynamic imagery can reveal political and social crises. The plates reverberate on both technical and emotional levels, and lay bare the artist’s acute and perceptive understanding of our times. This exhibition is co-curated by ING curator, Antonella Renzitti and Brett Littman, Executive Director of The Drawing Center.

Although these plates have been used to create a series of prints, Canevari conceived the plates as artworks themselves. Once functional, they now have bent edges and are mounted to the wall, nullifying their potential to be archived or reprinted. While Canevari employed traditional engraving techniques, his approach is unique; he uses drawn imagery that can be “read” on the plates’ etched surfaces rather than appearing in the negative as with conventional printing plates. Each work depicts an iconic image mined from Canevari’s visual lexicon and from his previous work in video and installation. Six of the ten plates show conflagrations: a gun, skull, tree, dress on a cross, the Roman Coliseum, and a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, all set aflame. Such gothic images of torched objects and places provide an opportunity for Canevari to capture the fleeting kinetic energy that is released when something burns. Cultural icons are destroyed, evoking notions of censorship and repression. The remaining four plates show, respectively, an ominous tire swing on a hangman’s wooden frame, a dog chained to a tire upon which “god” is written, a Bible with a gun placed on it, and a man poised to catch a falling bomb. These more static images are meditations on personal freedom, destiny, and the harrowing nature of conflict and torture. Through Canevari’s visceral, provocative, and direct iconography, Decalogo addresses the effects of organized religion on society and socio-political control.

Paolo Canevari was born in Rome in 1963 and lives in New York. Since his first solo show in Rome in 1991, Canevari has created works based on his background and education as an artist raised in a classical culture and a family of artists. Canevari works in a range of media, including animation, drawing, video, sculpture and installation. His work is represented in public and private collections throughout the world and has been exhibited at major institutions internationally.



from April 22, 2011 to June 24, 2011

Opening Reception on 2011-04-21 from 18:00 to 20:00


Paolo Canevari

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