Group show “The pitiless gaze of hysterical realism”


11.12.14 – 14.02.15
The Popping Club – Via Baccina 84, Roma ITALY


Curator: Stefano S. Antonelli
Management: Francesca Mezzano
Production: 999Contemporary
Adjunct curator: Marta Veltri
Executive production: Cecilia Caporlingua, Tiziano Iosca
Location settler: Francesco Caporlingua

Curator’s note

Portrait is an essential reference and a concrete way to measure the exercise of representation. It is a tool able to interpret the complexity of its reality. The act of observing and the expectations of translating the subject into images provides the power to manifest the inexhaustible node between the subjective identity and the public image. The movement of figurative visual arts has always been symbolised by portraits which has consequently become the continuous narration of mankind. Through the visual representation of the body, the face, the form, the dynamism, vitality and movement, the beauty as well as the ugliness and deformity; artists have always tried to represent the constant crossing of the roads of humanity. These factors combined have the ability to be contemporary only if able to express the spirit and soul of their times.

For this reason these artists are in this selection, I find each one of them as a solid interpreter of the spirit of our times. Their gaze will tell future people about us, their vision will reflect the global view of a society based on the paradigms of high definition and the continuous massive flow of information. After the nihilism of the 90’s, their work can try to explain that there is something that is worthwhile, something that perhaps is to be found between the details of this new depiction. Is this representation realistic? Yes it is. Since the sense of realism has begun to transcend from the original meaning and reshaped to better define the contemporary idea of realism.

Parallel to the growth of the urban arts, (late XX century, early XXI century) a new form of literature was narrating our times: David Foster Wallace, Don De Lillo, Dave Eggers, Chuck Palahniuk and other young novelists started talking and interpreting our everyday world. “Lonely people looking for a way to connect with others, people whose dreams were simply to build their own nest where to invite only the rabble they wished. The creation of an environment you can control, free from conflict and pain. A place where you rule” (C. Palahniuk, Non Fiction). By doing so, the conventions of realism have not been abolished; they have been exhausted, and overworked. Where is now the “Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” evoked by Dave Eggers? And the “Infinite Jest” described by David Foster Wallace? And the “Underworld” explored by Don De Lillo? Well if I look at these works, I see every single suggestion activated by these authors. With no mercy, work of these artists is a perfect representation of this western world vision called by James Wood: hysterical realism. If the work of these authors is an hysterical realistic representation of our lives the work of these artists is its pitiless gaze of this hysterical realism.

Stefano S. Antonelli