This winter at Hauser & Wirth’s New York exhibition space, Italian artist Roberto Cuoghi brings a new body of work, Pepsis, to view. Deliberately mixing artistic genres, styles and subjects, the show is presented as Cuoghi’s attempt to free himself from his own stylistic and artistic assumptions and experiences.
One might call the show a “next step” for an artist who has long shown an inclination towards challenging and complicating his own intellectual and material practice over the course of his work. ‘Pepsis’ is the application of a troubling idea that has always gone hand in hand with Cuoghi’s mutable work, culminating here in a highly varied and emotionally charged presentation of different series and bodies of work. Cuoghi has deliberately chosen to think of his work as an exercise in stylization, reproducing the ‘already seen’ in accordance with reassuring canons that seem to be warning us of a leveled and polished future. “I paint against my intentions,” the artist notes. “That is, if something of mine appears, I go over it. My way of painting can be defined only through the form it takes each time. I’m a painter without a mindset.”
The result are a series of complex and varied works that take the painted canvas as a starting point, but mix together a range of signifiers and structures, from puppets and collaged elements to portraiture. The range of graphical techniques, gestural movements and color palettes create a striking and evolving series of visions and explorations of modern culture. Political figures negotiate with apocalyptic scenes, while in others, moments of repose and calm are posed against close-up faces, charged with bright colors and vivid brushstrokes. The artist seems intent on challenging his own body of work at each turn, letting the artist define new modes and systems in each new canvas.
The show is on view through April 1st.
– D. Creahan
Roberto Cuoghi [Exhibition Site]