Francesco Pignatelli
Contemporary Alchemies

from June 5, 2014

Francesco Pignatelli, an artist who intends to renew the act of seeing through his photographic series in constant tension with painting and sculpture, exhibits for the first time in Bologna. Working on the photographic reproduction with the aid of various manipulations, the artist forces the viewer to reconsider and revise elements already assimilated into his memory, which can be familiar cityscapes, Renaissance paintings or arcadian forests. In a constant reinterpretation and transformation of known figurative languages, the artist tries to reveal their depth freeing them from worn-out meanings and then arousing in the viewer the need for a new confrontation.

The strength of the work of Francesco Pignatelli is the ability to break the visual habits by creating new spaces that force to go out from a passive contemplation of the world and of the works of art, coming to a new aesthetic vision. It is especially through the image's chromatic overturning that the artist provides us with a new perspective, as in the series Reversed City (since 2002) and Reversed Renaissance (since 2004). What the artist shows us is the negative of these images so that suddenly they lose their familiarity. Pothography is no longer a memory device but a real new creative force. With this technique anonymous but familiar urban views are suspended into a metaphysical dimension, where our knowledge of time and memory gets lost. Traces of the past force us to search for a new spontaneity in those Renaissance masterpieces by now surrounded by preconceptions, opening up to new interpretations. Finally, in the series Fragile, idyllic forests accentuate their mythological archetype of being the places where you can meet the unknown, thanks to the light paths which are created where usually the eye perceives shadows. From Fragile, the use of artistic medium becomes more complex as it turns out in the series Handle with care (2007), Homeless (since 2008), Translations (since 2008) and Observatory (since 2011). In many of these the photographic paper is no longer just a mere support but becomes an integral part of the work. Pignatelli attacks it indeed, shriveling it and giving it a new vitality and plasticity, then putting it in a plexiglass structure. Handle with care presents giant flowers with bright colors on a black background almost intending to immortalize their beauty before the inevitable memento mori. The series Homeless then arises from this: the shrivelled up flowers accumulate on the floor like dead bodies. In contrast with the land of forests of Fragile, the series Observatory presents animated skies. Here the dramatic concept of the afterlife explodes violently with the shots that pierce the work creating small holes that look like stars. Transformation is of paramount importance in the poetics of the artist and it is also present in the series Translations even if in a different way. We are facing a different exploration of the new digital world. As explained by the artist himself: "I have used a series of photographs taken from the internet and then I used a program that allowed me to decode their alphanumeric code. Afterwards I started to work on these groups of numbers/letters in an attempt to better represent each theme which Translations is made of".

Francesco Pignatelli lives and works in Milan. He was born in 1971 in what can undoubtedly defined as a family of artists: his father Ercole is focused on painting, with a distinctly figurative style, while his two brothers, Luca and Daniele, respectively on testing different materials and on the language of the video. He has been creating installations in public spaces since 1999 in different cities such as Turin, Rome, Milan, Venice, Cologne, Strasbourg, Bonn, Paris and Toronto. In 2014 he participated along with four other international artists in the exhibition "A Season of Triumphs," held in Moscow Manege on the occasion of the opening of the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.

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