Federica Schiavo Gallery is delighted to present a show with a series of works by Nicholas Byrne (Oldham, 1979), Todd Norsten (Minnesota, 1967) and Andrea Sala (Como, 1976).
Nicholas Byrne makes composite images, incorporating the stopping and reactivation of flows or fluxes, both representational and material. The works reverse engineer images by a technical invocation of various forms of traditional painting. Arguing for the use-value of muscle memory, in craft objects as a way in to new spaces of physical understanding. The works are formed around the activities of reading and learning to write, simultaneously. Arriving at various speeds and temperatures. Composed of superimpositions of febrile surfaces; built up, scratched into and layered over again. Curves, spirals and loops recur in dynamic forms, leading the gaze around the surface. Occasionally, uniform planes of colour impose themselves across the surface but don’t allow the eye to rest. Rather than providing a ground, planes of pure colour serve to obscure or colour-match forms and thus agitate perception.
Tendrils is made up of nine juicy interlocking panels. Across the joins, wavy lines thrum high to low and back again. Forming an engulfing field, like a curtain. The all-over blood-red seeming making a link between body-fluid with colour, and asks how do substances occupy your mind? Also akin to religious panel painting, Nerve scales is a knotty triptych of gessoed panels. Made up-close, in an exercise of scanning from left to right and back again. By taking care of how individual shapes touch each other. A mood of compression, by force, occurs in muscular cliques of lines meeting. The picture here is the language that made the painting.
During his frequent travels, Todd Norsten develops a photographical archive made of found symbols, traffic or neon signs, information plaques, logos and graffiti. He considers them anonymous examples of unacknowledged artistry and is deeply shocked by our innate need of communication, that brings men to constantly produce images and words. He finds amazing how intimate the handwritten messages in the public realm can be, in a world where the communication is largely digital.
The artist appropriates these found traces, removing them from their original context, literal meaning and function. This conceptual reinterpretation is closely linked to Norsten’s technical skills and in-depth knowledge of the art history. The result is a body of work in which the synthesis of the Minimal Art, the appropriation of Pop Art and the illusion of the trompe-l’oeil coexist.
"The world is simultaneously a wonder to behold and a nightmare from which to hide. Painting is the most human way to address this paradox. I would observationally add that my paintings aren’t what they immediately appear to be. I want a person looking at them to notice the way they are painted and the way the paint is handled and to let them unfold over time.
Many times the paintings are generated from the photos I take, which are often documentations of the basic human need to express themselves. In the US, making a sign, a t-shirt, a bumper stickers or coffee mug are very common ways that people express themselves. I am more interested in the need for people to express themselves than I am in what they express. The impulse to make those things is the same impulse that people who painted in caves had. It’s what makes us human." - Todd Norsten
Forgia is a series of sculptures made with slab pottery technique, that allows to cut the clay into sheets and assemble it in complex compositions.
The choice of material, a central phase in Andrea Sala’s research, is linked to its man-ufacturing technique: the result looks like a kiln, the ceramic cooking tool. The furnace is also the blacksmith’s tool for heating the metal that, together with the ceramic, composes the two sculptures. The metal plates, put together and painted, look like a flame or a mask that ideally closes the furnace mouth or comes out, remembering the original function again.
Here again, the artist travels back to the objects genesis, certifying how each work requires tools that in turn have been produced by other equipment, made by further machinery and so on. Indeed another important element for Sala is the craftsmanship. Its shapes have a fundamental function but originate in the design and the skillful gesture of the craftsman.