Visions & Redemption: Works by Alessandro Bavari and Quintin Gonzalez"

Rocky Mountains Digital Art Center, Denver

Bavari has decided to approach the subject of the lost cities of sin by following a precise itinerary, imagining landscapes, portraits, environments and objects, and he takes the viewer on a journey into the metaphor of these two forbidden and damned cities where people happily live in a total absence of morality, devoted to vice and lust, where every kind of sexual perversion is part of everyday life. In Sodom and Gomorrah, sexual perversion is considered a virtuosity. Virtuosity in which genetic crossbreeding from one generation to the next accumulates over time. Yet it did not cause shame; on the contrary, for the New Progeny it was the rule to show off with pride and irony an evermore unique body. Bavari has imagined these two cities as a kind of amusement park for visionaries, where his gaze is neither accusing nor benevolent, but simply amused and curious, open to taking in as much as possible. An enormous freak show designed with kitsch and geometrical rationality, like that of crib, where one can get lost, and scrutinize an intimate daily life as hybrid as it is metaphysical, and then find oneÕs path, perhaps to get lost again. BavariÕs work can be divided into three categories by theme: Environments, Situations and Portraits. What links each painting to the others is the ambivalence of the images, based in reflecting layers and fooling the eye. As Freud argued, everything subject to taboo has the nature of ambivalence: see the way in which the artist has reinterpreted the genres of painting (portraiture, landscape); upon coming into contact with each fragment you will experience the vertigo of the double meaning. Not to say that it is impossible to reconcile this with a subject ignorant of taboo: the serene contemplation of pleasure that emanates from pictures such as Portrait of a woman watching an initiation rite also shows the anguish in every life. It can be said that BavariÕs exploration of form and symbolism leads him into the territory of mannerist poetics: under the shinning surface dark things nest, and the harmony of the visible contains in itself the seed of disharmony. This oscillation, which is precisely an ambivalence, creates a constellation of opposite signs: life and death, joy and sorrow, hope and resignation. Alessandro attended the art school and then the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, studying scenography and art history, and getting a strong grounding in the classic techniques of oil painting, watercolour and engraving. Alessandro then was ready to create a new visual language, and to do so evolved his own techniques using mixed media including tar, glue, industrial paint and chemical photographic etching. The forms used to create the images came from various natural objects such as bones, plants, fossils. Alessandro did this for some years until, in 1993, he found the computer, which allowed him to go far beyound the limits of the manual techniques. He treats the computer like any other working instrument, like a brush or palette or a darkroom, and says 'Using Photoshop misses out the manual manipulation stage, but allows me to go straight to the thinking process. However, there are certain processes, like etching on metal with chemicals, which the computer can emulate, but never replace.'

01 june - 15 august 2001

Friday, June 08, 2001
Rocky Mountain Digital Arts Center, Denver, 01 june - 15 august 2001
Digital, and fanciful

Though at first they might seem quite different than the work of Schorr and Goldstein, a group of 15 digitally produced images by Italian photographer Alessandro Bavari offers its own brand of socio-political critique, however indirect it might be. These sumptuous, intricately constructed black-and-white photographs are featured at the newly opened Rocky Mountain Digital Arts Center in an exhibition evocatively titled "Sodom and Gomorrah, a Reportage from the Lost Cities." Employing an aesthetic that combines elements of past and present painters Hieronymus Bosch and Odd Nerdrum and photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Alessandro constructs a fanciful world that manages to be both alluring and forbidding, both medieval and futuristic. Like much of German expressionist art, hints of moral decay run through this work. But nothing is ever explicit and none of these images could really said to be offensive, perhaps because of their innate elegance and refined sensibility. The provocative-sounding "Portrait of Nymphomaniacs in the Depths of Gomorrah" is mildly confrontational but hardly outrageous. It depicts a group of women in leopard-skin suits at a party, including one leering at the viewer and another sticking out her tongue.

By Kyle MacMillan

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