Manfredi Beninati at Galleria Poggiali, Florence
Sunday 10 December 2039, the first solo-show in Florence by Manfredi Beninati (Palermo, 1970), opens at Galleria Poggiali next weekend (Saturday 22 October 2016).
The corpus of the works on show is the result of collaboration between the artist and the gallery that produced them, assisting Beninati at all stages, from the creation of the works through to the realisation.
The title of the exhibition is the expression of an imaginary date, an impossible combination according to the Gregorian calendar of day and date. Beninati is making reference to a formulation made in 1968 by the physicist Gabriele Veneziano, considered the father of “string theory” or the “theory of everything”, which posits the existence of parallel worlds extending in different dimensions. This realm of imagination, connected with the passage of time in a spatial dimension, is reflected in the works of the artist where time and space are combined with the power of imagination to create worlds that change depending on who is looking at them.
Manfredi Beninati has constructed the exhibition like a cinema set (he attended the Cinecittà school of film and set design) within which he creates instants of interiors, suspended rooms, imaginary situations, rendered through an itinerary that unwinds from the entrance to the gallery amidst ten light boxes, shots originating from the real reconstruction of an imaginary space physically recreated in a part of the gallery. He did the same thing at the MAXXI in Rome in 2003, for the Venice Biennale in 2005 and that of Liverpool in 2008 and, again in 2008, at the Parrish Museum of Southampton, at the Quadriennale in Rome and at the Athens Biennale and at that of Istanbul in 2009, at the Hammer Museum of Los Angeles and at the Thessaloniki Biennale (2011), and then again in 2012 at the Shanghai Biennial and in the same year at the Mardin Biennial in Turkey.
In this case, the set recreated in the Poggiali gallery represents in every respect a visionary version of the laboratory adjacent to it.
The exhibition project also comprises a series of sculptures: half-busts, horses, deer and masks in bronze and bas-reliefs in bronze and resin to which Beninati transfers the lightness of drawing and the delicacy of the light and the oil paints with the brightness of the felt-tips, bringing them to life through the use of different patinas.
The half-busts are striking for their elusive, roughed-out profiles, describing a space of several dimensions in which the figures at times emerge clearly defined, while at other times they are sketched by light, indefinite touches, like faces emerging from memory inspiring comfort or evoking bewilderment.
Besides is a marble sculpture in which the artist “photographs” and immobilises the state of his studio in Palermo: in the open notebook resting on the white marble plinth we can see sketches of his next work. Engraved in the marble, these become indelible, along with a coffee cup, scattered sheets of paper and a pencil sharpener. As Costantino D’Orazio writes in the catalogue for the show at Macro in Rome this year “…furnishings and objects are blocked in the limbo between two fractions of a second, in the interstices between before and after, carving out in time the instant that we can only imagine. He has captured it through an image, revealing all its fragility…”
The 9 bas-reliefs – 3 in bronze and 6 in resin – are installed horizontally almost as if they told a story. Instead, they are unconnected, lines from different screenplays speaking of memories, dreams, enchanted forests and characters of the purest fantasy.
Also displayed are a series of paintings that speak of the worlds imagined by Beninati, populated with fantastic objects, vegetable elements, living creatures, children, groups of people, animals and interiors that recall childhood or travels, where the light is delicate and the pastel shades are muted. These works are pervaded by the sensation of an evanescent atmosphere, light as air or like a gentle wind that allows the air to be filtered, creating tones and sensations that hark back to enchanted landscapes.
As Sergio Risaliti writes, the “medley” created by Beninati’s works “is that of the language of the unconscious which insists on selecting and emphasising visions exactly as it pleases, following imaginary rules and principle s that are not those of the rational, everyday world.”
Approaching the works of the Sicilian artist, again according to Risaliti, the observer has the impression that “the image as a whole appears to generate or regenerate itself, moving from one level of depth to another, as if there were different levels of consciousness. It is not possible to identify a single central or dominant subject, but rather a constellation of signs and figures that exist within an oneiric space-time dimension. As if life were a dream and the dream life.”
A catalogue with a critical essay by Sergio Risaliti and a conversation between Lorenzo Poggiali and Manfredi Beninati will accompany the exhibition.
Galleria Poggiali – Via della Scala 35/A and Via Benedetta 3r, Florence
Opening Saturday 22 October 6pm
22 October – 13 December 2016