Los Angeles, CA–The Pleasure Principal indicates a new direction for Italian-born artist Mattia Biagi. For his first exhibition at Eric Buterbaugh Gallery, the artist extends beyond his signature medium of tar to mobilize appropriated imagery and joyful color. Inspired in equal parts by the gallery’s verdant garden and the transformative and preservative qualities of tar, Biagi’s new body of work recontextualizes found objects and cultural imagery.
The Pleasure Principal represents a dissolution of boundaries for Biagi, who employs media as diverse as wood, paper, metal, acrylic, silk, and spray paint to blur the borders between life and death, nature and civilization, and preservation and transformation. The relationship between transformation and preservation extends to The Purpose, a sculpture realized in 2014 for which Biagi drapes silk flowers with a skin of tar, dripping reluctantly and aimlessly to create a weeping black cloud.
“Flowers are an important symbol for me as they simultaneously represent both life and death: a gift that decomposes the moment it’s offered. The Purpose offers a solution by preserving flowers in sticky black tar, maintaining their natural beauty while concealing it under a veil of thick darkness,” says Biagi.
Three new works of sculptural collage from 2016 will be installed in Eric Buterbaugh’s courtyard, each depicting a life-size figure appropriated from the history of art and rendered surreal by Biagi’s technique of assemblage. Anna cannibalizes an ancient Roman sculpture, replacing the figure’s head with an oversized, cartoonish brain. Flowers and fruit appear to sprout directly from her genitals in an offering of excess and a rejection of the limits of nature.
Biagi has spent the last ten years accumulating an archive of found images pulled from media, pornography, art history, and his own snapshots. This body of source material allows the artist to construct works of collage quickly and intuitively, approximating the library of Biagi’s unconscious mind. A series of eight mixed-media paintings from 2015 evidence this new direction. For Charlie, 2015, the artist deploys an image of a nurse from the 1950s, replacing her syringe with a bouquet of colorful flowers and her nurse’s cap with a mechanical apparatus. Biagi’s signature medium of tar grounds the work—literally acting as a backdrop for the colorful found imagery, and conceptually referring back to his investment in the transformative qualities of collage.
As part of the exhibition, Biagi will design the tablescape for an all-encompassing “scent dinner” on October 14, 2016 hosted by Eric Buterbaugh with former New York Times perfume critic Chandler Burr, who will craft a scent menu from the extraordinary gourmand scent materials in Buterbaugh’s eight floral perfumes to inspire guest chef Michael Hung of Los Angeles’ Viviane restaurant. The dinner, which promises to be, at once, an invisible, olfactory and deliciously gustatory experience, will take place in advance of the November launch of Buterbaugh’s new fragrance Kingston Osmanthus.
Mattia Biagi (b. 1974 Ravenna, Italy) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. His work has been presented in solo exhibitions including Election Day at Le Dictateur in Milan (2013) and Fiori at Young Projects in Los Angeles (2014). Group exhibitions include Storm of Life at Castello di Rivara in Turin, Italy in 2013; Un homme juste est quand même un homme mort at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in 2013; and Erection at MAMA Gallery, Los Angeles in 2014. Biagi has recently collaborated with Johnny Walker for their Black Label bottle and his work
is included in the permanent collections of the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina and the Louvre Museum in Dubai.
Image: Mattia Biagi, Vanda, 2015, 36 x 38in, tar, paper, wood, metal, acrylic paint. Photo by Tammaso Mei, courtesy of the artist.
About Eric Buterbaugh Gallery
Eric Buterbaugh established his namesake gallery in 2015 as the only project space in Los Angeles committed to showcasing artists who embrace the floral and the medium of scent in their practice. The flagship EB Florals perfumery, also on site, lends a base note of feminine elegance and luxury, which the gallery’s exhibiting artists are invited to disrupt, remark upon, or bring into sharper relief.
Gallery hours: Monday – Saturday, 11am–6pm
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Livia Mandoul [email protected] 407.919.9924
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE SCENT DINNER, TO ACQUIRE AN ADVANCE BOTTLE OF KINGSTON OSMANTHUS AND FOR OTHER INQUIRIES, PLEASE CONTACT:
Maddie Phinney [email protected] 323.651.9844