Italian contemporary artist Paolo Canevari is best known for transforming everyday materials and icons into large scale sculptures that confront his audience with stark, political and philosophical commentary. Throughout his career, Canevari has worked in a variety of media, most notably tyres and inner tubes, painting, drawing, performance, animation and film.
The provocative nature of the artists’ works, his connections to cutting edge fashion, and his active role within the art scene in New York, where he lived and worked for many years, have kept Canevari in the spotlight of both American and Italian media.
To me, an artwork is profoundly important when it does not recoil into a one-way structure – whether ideological or technical – but when it opens up to different perspectives for the viewer, therefore broadening their thought.
Cardi Gallery is proud to present Self-portrait / Autoritratto, the first major solo show in the UK dedicated to the work of Paolo Canevari (b. 1963, Rome). Unfolding over four storeys, it presents a portrait of the artist’s practice through installations, sculptures, and drawings the Italian artist produced over the last thirty years, many of which are on display for the first time.
Breaking away from the tradition of painting and the renewed interest for the medium dictated by the growing art market, by the late 1980s Canevari chose to move in the footsteps of American Minimalism and Arte Povera. By the early 1990s he began working with the industrial, readily available materials that he soon became associated with: inner tubes and tyres.
Self-portrait / Autoritratto’ aims to illustrate Canevari’s worldview through the artist’s deeply introspective creative process. It brings to the fore not only a reflection on the self but also, in the artist’s words “…a political reading of making art, intended to measure what Pasolini had defined “the injustice of the world”.
“Art is a democratic, progressive force, so it should ideally serve society, not the powers that be. In my work, the use of icons, symbols, and forms from various cultures is a way of drawing attention to their true meaning, tied to dogmas or other forms of power; they’re a way to open up a dialogue with the viewer and stimulate a reaction.
[…] The “political” character of my work is just one of many possible interpretations of what I do.”“What I wish to express is a radical, subversive attitude towards art and the idea of art as it has been conceived and conveyed by globalised consumeristic society, therefore raising the level of moral and ethical perception of the world.”
Paolo Canevari was born in Rome in 1963, a third-generation artist in his family. Since his first solo show in 1991, in which he started using car tubes and tyres, Canevari has developed a personal language aimed at revisiting the everyday and the most intimate aspects of memory. Over the years, and through the employment of a variety of media and techniques, from animation to large-format drawings, videos and installations, his projects have taken on a strong conceptual connotation. Focusing on the use of symbols, icons and images that are part of the collective memory, his works often invite viewers into a direct confrontation.
The artist was invited to partake in several biennials globally, including Liverpool Biennial 2004; the Whitney Biennale (2006), the 52nd International Exhibition at the Venice Biennale (2007). Widely exhibited at prominent institutions around the world, Canevari’s works have appeared at (amongst others) the National Gallery and MACRO, Rome; MART, Rovereto; Museion, Bozen; The Drawing Center, PS1 Contemporary Art Center and MoMA, New York; IMMA, Dublin; KW, Berlin; Parkview Green Contemporary Art Museum, Beijing. Pieces by Canevari are included in prestigious international museum collections such as MoMA, New York, the Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la Creation, Paris, Rome’s MACRO and MART, Rovereto.
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