COLLEZIONE MARAMOTTI: new projects by Kara Tanaka and Flavio De Marco


After the solo shows by Gert & Uwe Tobias and Jacob Kassay, the Maramotti Collection has recently presented two new commisioned works by the Los Angeles based artist Kara Tanaka and the italian artist Flavio De Marco. Mainly based on paintings, the Maramotti Collection is one of the most interesting collection in Europe. It was founded by Achille Maramotti, who first conceived of creating a public collection of contemporary art some thirty years ago, and planned to make it an exemplary institution, open to connoisseurs and other interested individuals, in the service of the aesthetic and intellectual appreciation of art. He intended this collection to mirror the evolution of the most advanced artistic thinking of his time. The collection is the result of the strong friendship and professional relationship between Achille Maramotti and Mario Diacono, one of the most brilliant critics, intellectuals and dealers of the last decades.


The interrogation of human body’s fate strongly marks the artistic practice of Kara Tanaka, a twenty-seven-year-old American artist who lives and works in Los Angeles, now having her first exhibition in Europe. The body’s loss, the artist assumes, in a future society will allow the vital energies to shift from the fulfillment of physical needs to other goals: the exploration of the cosmos, a new philosophy of nature and of human existence.

The absent bodies in the embalming tables of A Sad Bit of Fruit, Pickled in the Vinegar of Grief, the work she has created for this exhibiton, imply a rejection of the desire for immortality, whose widespread presence has permeated Western culture, that the artist sees is in a state of decline and deep crisis. There is no symptom, in fact, more characteristic of the desire for immortality, expressed by humans since the earliest forms of civilization, than the cult of the preservation of the body for the hereafter. It is not surprising if the withering of this desire is accompanied today by a growing obsolescence of the metaphysical tension in art. Just as metaphysics, for millennia, has invaded and permeated the iconography of the body, deifying it, so art explores now the iconography of its eventual loss. In A Sad Bit of Fruit, Pickled in the Vinegar of Grief, Kara Tanaka posits a physical way out of the conflict that human beings endures between body and consciousness, foreseeing the disappearance of the former and the emigration of the latter beyond the boundaries of the social—into a cosmos that technology, with the constant acceleration of scientific progress, brings ever closer to us. Tanaka thinks of the present as the future’s past, humans beginning to renounce the body and the earth in order to turn into pure consciousness.

Therefore her work constitutes a meditation, informed by both technology and philosophy, on the disappearance of the body once desired immortal, in favor of a voyage of consciousness into further realities. In A Sad Bit of Fruit, the body is contemplated as absence through its dissolution represented by the fluids running in the lateral gutters of the embalming tables. The work’s thirteen tables, identical in their facture, have been made in fiberglass and then spray-enameled with epoxy resin; their back side is covered in canvas, which implies the absence of painting; while the red brackets in anodized aluminum that hold them to the wall counterpoint the virtual blood on the tables’ front side. The tables jut out from the wall, their inclination determined by the bulky brackets that hook the tables to the wall with a symmetrical progression from the sides to the center. The reflection on the wall of these supporting structures creates a diffused red halo around them, that echoes the red pigment running inside the tables’ gutters.

The focal point of Tanaka’s embalmer’s stones is the chrome-plated drain, through which the body’s fluids are expelled: it becomes a metaphor for the passage from being to non-being, or rather from body to pure consciousness. Tanaka’s drains are the conclusive act of the intellectual construction that the work sets in motion.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book published by Gli Ori, with a text by Mario Diacono.


Flavio de Marco’s artistic research has focussed on the experience of landscape through the language of painting.

Since 1999 his research has taken the form of the display of an operating system in a computer, as a model for a new way of looking at the horizon, in the flat and close look of the screen. The “windows” of the software, devoid of their original textual and iconic features, become images of empty frames and – once painted on the canvas – places to be looked at, but no longer usable landscapes. In 2007, on the occasion of the exhibition Souvenir Schifanoia, these windows opened for the first time on a core of images coming from the history of art and, two years later, in Portrait of a Collection, the paintings of an art collection became models for a return to landscape representation, where the interface of screen and classic landscape live together like two aspects of the same reflection.

The project for Collezione Maramotti consists of six large canvasses and 18 postcard-size canvasses on the theme of city views, specifically representing six cities where the artist has lived: Berlin, Bologna, Lecce, London, Milan, Rome. As a whole, the project intends presenting a further evolution in landscape painting, starting from a delayed experience: photographs of undergrounds and skylines from advertising boards (Berlin), maps and images from satellite navigation (London), sea views and tourists guides (Lecce), images from art history and chromatic abstractions (Milan), copies of paintings and monochromes (Bologna), brochures and touristic tours (Rome).

In the publication in two languages accompanying the exhibition, the project is enriched by the participation of Teho Teardo and Paolo Nori, who in their respective research areas (music for the former, and literature for the latter) developed their own visions of these cities, alongside that of the artist. The book -published by Silvana Editoriale- also includes a text by Adriana Polveroni on landscape painting.

Photo credits:

Kara Tanaka, A Sad bit of Fruit in the Vinegar of Grief, 2010
detail of drain in one of the embalmer’s stones

Flavio de Marco, Paesaggio con veduta (Lecce I), 2010
acrylic, spray paint, oil pastel, drawing pen, crayon and digital print on canvas,
180 x 298 cm