Contemporary Art? Large scale installations? Comestible sculptural materials?
If any of these words pique your interest, then hop the metro to Barberini and take a look at the wonderful and bizarre works of Swiss artist, Urs Fischer, showing at Rome’s Gagosian Gallery.
It’s a tiny exhibition space, just three rooms inside a former bank from the 1920s, but its display-case size makes this art gallery a perfect intermission from Rome’s bustling center. The handful of Fischer pieces (on display for just over a month) confront expectations, posing modern art’s favorite question since Duchamp signed a urinal in 1917: what is art anyway?
In his “Problem” series, Fischer presents the viewer with what would be classic portrait shots except that the faces of his subjects are completely obscured by the silk-screened image of an enormous egg. An egg? Yes, why not? Eggs, either split in half or whole, frustratingly block each face, heightening your interest more than if you could see them. It’s art that withholds instead of reveals and makes your own curiosity part of what is on display, perhaps revealing more about who you are than who is in the painting.
It’s true you would never look at an egg this closely if it weren’t overlaid on the ever-fascinating human face. But then you might ask, why does anyone need to look at an egg this closely? As you try to work it out you get the feeling that somewhere Fischer is laughing at the joke he’s played on you…or is that just my own paranoid interpretation?
In the descriptively titled Horse/Bed, Fischer digitally combined 3D scans of a taxidermied workhorse and a hospital bed to construct a life-size aluminum horse/bed combo. At last, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. As odd as it seems, I admit I became a little transfixed with the thing. It’s everything weird and wonderful.
The bed appears to be both piercing the horses sides, wrapping around him in the cage of pain a hospital bed can represent but also growing on the animal naturally, like barnacle — a silver dream-horse which could carry a patient to new lengths of the imagination while their physical body is confined to illness or injury.
The only other thing in the room is a tiny vase of colorful flowers… naturally. Whether they are related to flowers left in a hospital or there to provide a contrast in scale or materials (the hard aluminium, the impermanent petals…right? maybe?), the effect brings you back to the reality of trying to analyze Fischer’s work: just as you think you have it, it’s gone.
September 18 to October 26
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 10:30 am to 7pm
Via Francesco Crispi 16
Free admission (it’s FREE people, go!)