Published by ArtsLife
16 April 2022
Written by Rebecca Delmenico

 

See the original article published in Italian

 

See the pdf version in italian

 

Giuseppe Veneziano in New York

Giuseppe Veneziano La Madonna di Joker, 2020 and Quasi Amici, 2021

Who doesn't know Giuseppe Veneziano? In addition to being one of the main exponents of the Italian New Pop movement and of the ItalianNewbrow group, he is also considered one of the greatest artists of contemporary art. With continuity and coherence he is the bearer of the idea of an art that is direct and easy to understand, capable of triggering reflection. Art tends to become intellectualized, but according to Veneziano, artists like Warhol, Haring and Koons are the ones who, using an understandable language, have managed to best represent their era. Veneziano's work wants to open a debate, which does not stop at the aesthetics, but aims at the social. Thanks to an extraordinary creative ability, the artist triggers, with pungent irony, an irreverent and surreal chronicle of reality. News stories, political figures, icons of mass media civilization, and last but not least the Church get off the pedestal and are demythologized, placed in inappropriate, sometimes ridiculous situations, in a world where even the myths of comics and cartoons take on a new identity far from the world of fairy tales. In all of this is part of Veneziano's declared love for Renaissance art, paid homage in many of his works. Veneziano's art intertwines and blends what T.W Adorno called "high culture" and "low culture", precisely one of the distinctive features that led to the formation of the ItalianNewbrow group.

Giuseppe Veneziano in New York

Giuseppe Veneziano The Holy Family, 2022 and Vincent Van Gogh vs. Mike Tyson, 2019.

After a career that has seen him exhibit in various prestigious venues, not least the "Blue Banana" exhibition in Pietrasanta, which has met with enormous success, now Veneziano arrives in America, for his first solo exhibition in New York. Massive crowds at the spaces of the Space Gallery St Barth where the important exhibition "Alter Ego" was inaugurated, which includes paintings, watercolor studies and two new NFTs by the artist. As Veneziano explains when speaking of the title of the exhibition

 

In my paintings the private vices of some protagonists of my adolescent fantasy are often told. The Pirandellian theory of the masks we wear on every occasion always comes back, and of the private one that only we know. The alter ego as the other self that is often not revealed. And he continues “I think that for every artist, exhibiting in New York is an important milestone in his career. For me it is a dream come true.

Giuseppe Veneziano in New York

Giuseppe Veneziano The First Kiss, 2021;  Selfica, 2021 and Pop Fiction, 2021.

There are many works on display, an overview that traces Veneziano's production over many years of career. The artist reinvents the world through his own mocking and humorous vein, referring to a "global" iconography made up of references that are part of the common imaginary that the artist uses to achieve his goal, in fact he declares

 

My ambition is to tell contemporary stories, but with a nod to the past and art history, this serves as a stimulus for new narratives.” And he continues “During my childhood I created fantastic worlds in my head populated with characters that fed my imaginary world. Comic book superheroes, Disney characters and Japanese anime are the ones I'm closest to.

Giuseppe Veneziano in New York

Giuseppe Veneziano La Madonna di Joker, 2020; Quasi Amici, 2021 and The Holy Family, 2022

Then off to the dance! Goofy and Mickey Mouse, always inseparable friends, in the work "Pop Fiction" become the unscrupulous couple formed by Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield, from the film Pulp Fiction, while in "Quasi amici” ("Almost friends") Goofy, with a lost and shocked look, is sitting on a bench holding a gun he just killed Mickey Mouse with, who is lying on the ground in a pool of blood. Quarrel? Obsession? Maybe after so many years together their relationship cracked and we didn't know anything about it. How not to talk about the family? the classic family with mum, dad and little baby becomes "The Holy family", the holy family of superheroes Spiderman and Wonder Woman, evidently weighed down, portrayed while together they take their little spiderman for a walk who has taken everything from his dad, in fact he is already wearing his own uniform. In Veneziano's canvases the superheroes are represented in completely new guises, prey to vices and fragility, we see it in "Supercocaine", where Wonder Woman gives herself the energy by sniffing cocaine, at the same time in "The first kiss" she voluptuously kisses Catwoman, on the other hand Spiderman and Batman do the same in “Forbiddencolours”. Not even Snow White, so virginal and innocent, in "Selifica" we find her intent on taking a selfie of her private parts, the work "Vincent Van Gogh vs. Mike Tyson” played precisely on the famous news story in which Mike Tyson bit off the ear of the opponent who is now none other than Van Gogh, who, in the guise of a boxer, shows his severed ear. The Madonna and Child, a theme so dear to the history of art, now holds a little Joker on her lap, in the work "La Madonna di Joker" ("The Joker's Madonna"), in other works the baby Jesus becomes a little superman, or a little Hitler in the work "Madonna with Hitler” which aroused a hornet's nest of controversy.

Giuseppe Veneziano in New York

"Alter Ego" solo art exhibition by Giuseppe Veneziano at Space Gallery Soho, New York

There is certainly no shortage of a political figure like Donald Trump who, listless, with a stars and stripes dressing gown, arranges his hair in front of the mirror in "The first fatigue of Trump". America often returns in Veneziano's works, from comic book and cartoon characters to politics, in this regard the artist declares "We Italians are steeped in American culture, we have a certain affinity with the democratic principles of their politics. Compared to other countries I've visited, I felt this familiarity more. I believe that my work has a lot to do with American culture and in fact in the first days of the exhibition, the exhibition has already had instant feedback.

 

Veneziano often defined as a provocateur, but specifies "I feel more like an artist who wants to make the public reflect on some issues that are close to my heart. Sometimes to achieve this I use social symbols that some communities consider untouchable for an artist. From there arises the misunderstanding of provocation or scandal. Only when some of my intuitions actually come true can my work be better understood. Then they are no longer provocations but prophecies.

Giuseppe Veneziano in New York

Giuseppe Veneziano Vincent Van Gogh vs. Mike Tyson, 2019; The First Kiss, 2021;  Selfica, 2021 and Pop Fiction, 2021.

Finally, to my question about the many who have tried to imitate his style, Veneziano replies “Those who imitate my work are attracted by an apparent ease of ideation and execution. But in reality, behind every work of mine there is a long search until the right idea comes out. Sometimes I drag the conception of a work even for months or a year. Implementation also takes a long time. But I'm happy that none of this transpires in my work."

 

We can well say that America is ready for Veneziano, and that, as the artist says, "this marriage is still to be done."

Giuseppe Veneziano in New York

Giuseppe Veneziano La Madonna di Joker, 2020 and Quasi Amici, 2021

Giuseppe Veneziano | ALTER EGO
Space Gallery St Barth, 428 Broome Street, New York, NY 10013
Dates: April 7 – April 24, 2022

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