By Dexter R. Matilla
Otherworldly might be too on the nose if it were to be used to describe the works of Italian artist Enrico Minguzzi, who is making his inaugural exhibition in Asia with Flos via Altro Mondo Arte Contemporanea in Makati.
Minguzzi was born in Ravenna, a town in the northeast part of Italy with some 15,000 residents. After graduating from Liceo Artistico of Ravenna in Italy, Minguzzi attended several courses at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna where he graduated in 2008. He worked in Milan for some time before settling in Bagnacavallo.
His first one-man exhibit “Liqueforme” was held at the Cannaviello Gallery in 2008. He has since had solo exhibitions in Vincenza (2013), in the Palazzo Ducale of Pabullo nel Frignano (2014), in Ravenna and in Rimini (2015), and in Turin (2015 and 2017). He also undertook an art residency program at Area Creative 42.
He is also a recipient of awards and recognitions such as the DAMS Award, a competition promoted by the arts section of the University of Bologna and the SAMP Award, which he both received in 2006. That same year, he also became a finalist at the Premio Celeste and a runner-up in the National Arts Award. In 2007, he gained recognition for his work Babel, the Places of Contamination and in 2014 received the Mantegna Cercasi Award.
This year, he is the recipient of the Icona Prize from the Antonio Coppola Foundation for his work, D’oro decoro. The Italian foundation, which was established in 2018 by entrepreneur, collector, and art patron Antonio Coppola, promotes contemporary visual languages and supports emerging talents.
Minguzzi’s art is recognized as original research that liberates painting into space, allowing pictorial material to live beyond the artist’s intent—a fusion that serves as a metaphor for painting’s perpetual oscillation between genres, a dynamic representation of the current artistic landscape.
So how does one begin to comprehend the elaborate images Minguzzi presents here? Not quite representational and certainly not quite abstract, the subjects nevertheless appear alive, breathing, and throbbing as if at any moment it would burst out of the canvas and grab the viewers and envelop them in a cocoon of a yet to be discovered substance.
From a distance, the works seem almost photographic in quality and to the playful mind, take the form of things that are familiar. Yet upon closer inspection, the eyes are bombarded with a burst of details that once more make the viewers think multiple times over.
Depending on one’s philosophies or sensibilities, L’equilibrista can be seen from afar as a woman’s sensitive parts but to another, it can be a living organism trying to find balance and so as to remain standing on a platform, at the same time making sense of the world it found itself in.
One of the largest pieces, Globo, can easily pass off as an interpretation of the human cerebral cortex, with neurons continuously pulsing to indicate that what’s in the canvas is indeed living.
“Or it could be a part of the globe,” interjects Minguzzi. “It reminds of many things but not one thing in particular and that’s what I want.”
Three of the smaller pieces, Senza Forma, Genesi, and Sotto al bosco, feature pustules and seemingly organic growths that could theoretically give rise to new and surprising visuals.
In every piece, however, Minguzzi’s artistry is evident and the works are grounded in the classicism with a mix of the contemporary. The technique, clearly has always been there, honed through years of practice whether with his early landscape works or with his sculptural pieces.
From the instinctive gestural strokes to the patience he displays in superimposing layers upon layers of colors, Minguzzi opens himself up to the work and listens to it until he feels satisfied.
“The works start immediately on the canvas without sketches of photographic references,” Minguzzi says. “I want everything to be spontaneous and that all the power I can give it to be put directly onto the canvas. I imagine what I want to do but I don’t know exactly every brush stroke and I think that’s the most interesting thing about painting—there is a kind of dialogue between the painter and his work.”
“Minguzzi’s imageries are enigmatic and persuasive to the point of disquietude,” says Remigio David, artistic director of Altro Mondo Arte Contemporanea. “(He) dares and succeeds even in untested ways with his thoughtful and profoundly contemplative art making.”
As should be expected of someone who comes from the country that gave birth to the renaissance, Minguzzi himself has birthed a new reality and it invites interpretation from viewers but only after a deep introspection. Truth be told, there really isn’t any right or wrong way of understanding them and while this current evolution of Minguzzi’s style is clearly just in its infancy, a seed has already been planted, merely waiting to blossom into something else entirely with the passage of time.
“Flos” is on display at Altro Mondo Arte Contemporanea until December 2, 2023.
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