Stefano Arienti – Galleria S.A.L.E.S.

On Saturday 3oth November 2013 at 4 pm Galleria S.A.L.E.S. is proud to inaugurate Ragamala, the fifth personal exhibition by Stefano Arienti at the Galleria S.A.L.E.S. Ragamala, which letterally means “garland of ragas,” is a word taken from the terminology of classical Indian music and it is also the title of the autobiography of Ravi Shankar, who recently died in 2012.

The synthesis among the arts and multiculturalism inspire the artist and are used as a pretext to create the new works realized expressly for this project at S.A.L.E.S. The new works integrate in un harmonical way with the previous practice of Arienti, which in the last years has found consolidation around the production of big installations, through which the artist modulates his dialogue with institutional art spaces – museums in particular – (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice, 2012) and those places more tied to culture in a broad sense, like theatres (Teatro La Fenice Venice, 2012) or churches (realization of the altar for the Church of Chiesa di San Giacomo Maggiore, Sedrina – BG).

Ragamala is also the title of the big installation that Stefano Arienti has realized in the central hall of the Gallery. It is a big wall work, composed by one thousand and five hundred CD cases of albums of music from all over the world and an undefined number of empty cases of virgin CDs, with witch the artist fill up the interstitial spaces of the installation.

This work recalls the big piece Custodie Vuote (Empty Cases), presented by Stefano Arienti at the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa in Venice on the occasion of his personal exhibition in 2012. With Ragamala, in the space of Galleria S.A.L.E.S. the artist expands and redefines the work presented in Venice, experimenting new installation modalities.

The installation embraces the audience in an environment intentionally left empty, where (only) the walls are covered up by (the CD cases) and where the viewers move as if they were inside the nave of a church decoreated with frescos or mosaics. Ragamala reminds a fresco or a mosaic, for its technical qualities, for its choral notes and for its nearly didactic character. A work that is also a collection, an archive of mobile knowledges, like Arienti has already done before when he explored the place of the “Library”.

In the project room of the Gallery are exhibited new works of the typology of the “drilled posters”. This particular type of works, tipical among the vastest production of the artist, presents in this occasion the peculiarity that the they are all posters of religous theme, depicting characters of the Catholic and Hinduist devotional tradition.

As Arienti writes: “Both CDs and posters are materials of the mass culture that are destined to cover a marginal role, but that at the same time are still widespread witnesses of world cultures”. Arienti, a prominent heir of Italian conceptual tradition, explores the relationship between popular art and massification, without overstepping the borders of artistic practice, always carrying his research on the terrain of formal elaboration, that is internal with respect to the making of art.

Stefano Arienti gained his artistic-cultural training attending Corrado Levi’s lessons at the Polytechnic, in a lively climate of seminars that included artists such as Richard Long, Daniel Buren and Tony Cragg. His artistic journey began in the eighties when, among his first works, he presented folded papers that exploited very simple and repetitive means and procedures which recalled everyday dynamics. In the subsequent decade the artist’s works often employed extra-pictorial materials and, in the same way, made use of reproductions of pictures by masters of the past or trite supermarket posters, covering them with malleable material such as plasticine or silicone. In the same period he began to engrave or perforate materials from popular culture (discs, old car parts). Arienti’s works are created by setting out from a conceptual gesture executed on an object which is thus taken out of its sphere of use and acquires an aura. As well as objects the artist also plays with the characters and commonplaces of everyday Italian life (weddings, the lottery and city traffic). In recent years Arienti has begun to create installation works and exhibitions, shifting analysis from the pure objectual datum to the environmental dimension. His research proceeds along guidelines of a relationship with popular tradition, which has always been one of his characteristics, but is completed by a backward glance at his own art and his own technical achievements, questioning himself on the capacity of art to be not only a content of knowledge but also a container of heterogeneous wisdoms and memories; in other words, the capacity of art in a strict sense to influence culture in a broad sense.


MAMbo, Bologna (2013, G); Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris (2013, G); Museo Cà Rezzonico, Venice (2013, G); Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice (2012, S); Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (2012, 2007, S); GAMEC, Bergamo (2011, 2009, 2005, 2001, G); Museion, Bolzano (2010, S); MART, Rovereto (2010, 2008, G); Hangar Bicocca, Milano (2010, G); Palazzo Ducale, Mantova (2009, S); Ursula Blickle Stiftung (2009, G); Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice (2008, S); Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2008, G); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2008, S); Castello di Rivoli, (2008, 1997, G); Artpace, San Antonio – Texas (2007, S); MAXXI Museum, Roma (2004, S); Tel Aviv Museum of Art, (2007, G); Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Roma (2006, 2005, 1996, G); Palazzo delle Papepsse, Siena (2006, G); Musèe d’ art Moderne, Saint-Etienne (2004, G) ; GAM, Bologna (2002, G) ; XXIII Biennale di Arti Grafiche, Lubiana (1999, G) ; MoMA PS1, New York (1998, G) ; SESC, San Paulo (1998, G) ; Centre d’Art Contemporain, Ginevra (1997, G); ICA, Londra (1997, G); National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul (1995, G); C.I.A.C., Montreal (1994, G); Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid (1994, G); Fukuyama Museum of Art, Fukuyama (1994, G); Hochschule fur Angewandte Kunst, Vienna (1993, G); Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago del Cile (1992, G); Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt (1990, G); FRAC des Pays de la Loire, Clisson (1989, G).

In 1992 he participated to the Biennale of Art in Instanbul and in 2007 to the Gwajju Biennale. For two times, in 1990 and in 1993, Stefano Arienti has been invited to take part with his works to Venice Biennale of Visual Arts.

Galleria S.A.L.E.S. – Via dei Querceti 4/5, Rome
November 30, 2013 – January 31, 2014