Nicolás Guagnini “Heads and Torsos”

kaufmann repetto/ Bortolami /55 Walker St.

poster for Nicolás Guagnini “Heads and Torsos”
[Image: Nicolás Guagnini "Castor and Pollux" (2021) Oil and acrylic on linen mounted on wood, 16 x 20 in.]
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Bortolami presents Heads / Torsos, Nicolas Guagnini’s fourth solo show with the gallery and his first at 55 Walker. The exhibition consists of two series of small oil paintings; one of hyper-stylized heads and another of torsos. These new works spring from psychedelic drawings Guagnini produced over the last 18 months, before translating the motifs into oil paint on canvas.

Guagnini’s Heads paintings are suspended between symbol and illusion. From Mesoamerican glyphs to commercial illustration, surrealism and graffiti, the Heads, as in all the artist’s work, allude to a layered set of visual references. High and low, flatness and illusionary depth, cohere seductively in the paintings. Particular allusions are made to artist and writer Asger Jorn’s seminal essay “What Is an Ornament” (1948), which argues the ornamental as, and derived from, nature’s formal language. Guagnini’s figures are a byproduct of dynamic ornamentation, in which the figure dissolves into ornament itself, with each swirling arabesque resolving in a human profile. Set against smooth gradients and set upon a horizon line, the heads appear monolithic despite their diminutive scale; Guagnini’s dynamic ornamentation proposes a monumental object.

Guagnini’s Torso series, heavily influenced by Thangka, Tibetan anatomical medical paintings, proposes a correspondence between interior and exterior, organizing color within swirling, organic motifs. The pictorial idioms of post-impressionism and early Dubuffet dovetail with his surface treatments—he daubed, scraped, and combed oil paint to create impastoed, textured surfaces. Free of the gradient environments of the Heads paintings, the Torsos appear disembodied. While operating separately, the Heads and Torsos can’t help but write a thorough line, generating a visual narrative of organic processes inside the body. Though disassociated, the mind and body echo one another. The ambiguous snaking line of, or within, or on, the body.



from September 24, 2021 to October 30, 2021

Opening Reception on 2021-09-29 from 18:00 to 20:00

Website (venue's website)



Venue Hours

From 10:00 To 18:00
Closed on Mondays, Sundays


Address: 55 Walker St., New York, NY 10013
Phone: 917-388-3580

Between Church St. and Broadway. Subway: 6 or B/D/N/R to Canal Street.

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