Italian artist Domenico Gnoli’s canvases conflate the characteristics of both Pop and Surrealism in a body of work that obsessively investigates the relationship between identity and surface. Our presentation will focus on one of the artist’s most significant recurring motifs: the bed.
Hovering in between abstraction and figuration, Gnoli’s beds are both abandoned and occupied, the texture and patterns of his bedspreads rendered in fetishistic detail across lovers’ bodies and empty mattresses. Recalling both the perspectival foreshortening and the metaphysical concerns of Mantegna’s 15th-century masterpiece Lamentation of Christ, Gnoli’s beds are snapshots of the brief interludes when the body is suspended in between life and death. As in Mantegna, the bed in Gnoli’s hands becomes a site that renders a set of disrupted bedclothes the ultimate signifier of loss.
Though Gnoli’s career was tragically abbreviated, this suite of works offers a compelling glimpse into the several dozen mature canvases that remained at the time of his death. Deeply personal and profoundly invested in the concept of an open painterly narrative, Gnoli’s bed paintings offer both the tender melancholy and the technical mastery synonymous with his larger body of work.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue featuring a text analyzing the motif of the bed with- in Gnoli’s oeuvre written by the prominent art writer and long-time museum director Guy Tosatto. Tosatto wrote his doctoral dissertation on Domenico Gnoli and is currently the director of the Musée de Grenoble.