press release

Not the square, the triangle or the circle: the face is the most elementary shape. It is the primordial form, the first we learn to see, recognize and re-create. In all cultures we find innumerable images of faces: as portraits, but also as essential representations of the human being in general, as universal archetype. The face, then, is also the most sensitive, the most expressive image, where every transformation echoes in our soul. In recent contemporary art we often find transformed faces of great impact, reflecting the questioning and search for identity in a complex, global, cross cultural reality.

The Italian artist Maurizio Anzeri (*1969 Loano, lives in London) works with discarded black and white portraits, which he brings back into existence with exquisite embroidery. A celebration of forgotten lives, his work transforms straight photographs into three-dimensional objects with an intense psychological dimension. The portraits he creates are both beautiful and unnerving. Masked faces of someone's long-forgotten relatives radiate new expression, which reinvents old stories through an unexpected and new visual language. In 2009 - 2010 his works have been shown at the Photographer's Gallery in London and in the exhibitions "British Art Now" at the Hermitage Museum in S.Petersburg aswell as at the Saatchi Gallery in London.

The paintings of Hannah van Bart (*1963 Amsterdam) represent solitary figures composed by different elements. Van Bart proposes a new vision of the portrait, in which subtle modifications and irregularities make the image more expressive, reflecting a complex inner world. She aims at creating figures that can survive on their own, achieving formal and conceptual independence, being simultaneously figures, landscape and architecture. Van Bart is represented by Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York and her works have been shown at the the CoBrA Museum (2002) and Gemeentemuseum (2009) in Amsterdam.

Shocking, realistic and surreal at the same time, Italian painter Valerio Carrubba (*1975 Siracusa, lives in Milan) breaks down and reassembles faces and figures, often using anatomical elements to create disturbing, jarring images. His technique involves painting the same figure twice on metal, overlaying the brushstrokes and thus obtaining extremely clear, almost tactile images. In 2009 he participated in the Prague Biennial and in 2008 at the Turin Triennial "50 Moons of Saturn" curated by Daniel Birnbaum.

The works of Juul Kraijer (*1970 Assen, lives in Rotterdam) are drawings, mostly made in charcoal on paper. With a light, transparent, but definite line she creates the mutating figure of a young woman being transformed or interacting with other creatures or natural elements. The images are not portrayals of real situations, but rather embodied frames of mind, incarnated by a figure. They have been shown in institutions like the Stedelijk in Amsterdam (2001) and the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (2006). In 2009 she took part in the 3rd Moscow Biennial.

Using a wide range of different elements, including watercolors, collage, cut-outs from fashion, porno and news magazines, books and manuals of geography, art and medicine, but also materials like beads, yarn and earth, Wangechi Mutu (*1972 Nairobi, lives in New York) creates extremely complex, detailed faces and figures. She uses collage as a metaphor for the alienated, globalized African identity. Her manipulated portraits underline role contradictions, and her contorted figures become images of victims and persecutors at the same time, also alluding to the exploitation of women in Africa and the western world. Mutu has already shown in prestigious museums like San Francisco MoMA and the Miami Art Museum (2005) and the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin (2010).

John Stezaker's (*1949 Wocester, lives in London) work re-examines the various relationships to the photographic image: as documentation of truth, purveyor of memory, and symbol of modern culture. In his collages he appropriates images found in books or magazines and uses them as 'ready mades'. In his "Marriage" series he focuses on the concept of portraiture, both as art historical genre and public identity. Using photographs of classic film stars, he splices and overlaps famous faces, creating hybrid 'icons' that dissociate the familiar to create sensations of the uncanny. Recently his works have been shown at the the Camden Art Center in London and the Rubell Family Collection of Miami in 2007, at Barbican Art Gallery (2008), at the Zabluydowicz Collection (2008) and at the New Museum of New York (2008).

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Maurizio Anzeri, Hannah van Bart, Valerio Carrubba, Juul Kraijer, Wangechi Mutu, John Stezaker