Sperone Westwater is pleased to present an exhibition of ceramic sculptures by the Italian artists Bertozzi & Casoni, featuring their new series, The Five Seasons, a reconstruction of the paintings by the late Renaissance master Giuseppe Arcimboldo. In his late 16th century portraits, Arcimboldo represents each season - Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall – through a human face rendered out of plants, fruits and vegetables. Bertozzi & Casoni’s work is not simply a transliteration of painting into sculpture, but rather their own interpretation of Arcimboldo’s prompt. The face of Winter (Inverno) is wrought out of gnarled tree bark and barren branches, Spring (Primavera) out of delicate flowers and vibrant leaves, Summer (Estate) boasts glistening vegetation and for the face of Fall (Autunno), a cornucopia of the harvest’s bounties. Quinta Stagione, a sculpture of a fifth season of their creation, offers an allusion to Arcimboldo’s Four Seasons in One Head, perhaps “a self-portrait of the artist in the ‘winter’ of his life, [or] a summa of his career.” The ceramic extension cords, rusted cans and flexible PVC tubing that make up Quinta Stagione sit in juxtaposition to the artists’ abounding representations of the four conventional seasons.
New handbag and tray sculptures will be installed on the second floor. The handbag has long served as one of the most ubiquitous symbols of luxury and status within the world of women’s fashion. Bertozzi & Casoni’s designer line of purses, many of which are titled after influential women in media and the contemporary art scene, sit open and abandoned to reveal their contents – guns, cigarettes, sunglasses and pill bottles. These handbags lie at the intersection of surrealism and hyperrealism – placing the absurd within the ordinary to call into question our notions of luxury, consumerism and femininity. While the trays – teeming with broken eggshells, silverware and newspapers – typify the technical prowess of Bertozzi & Casoni’s practice, they once again capture the artists’ fascination with the underside of consumption – with the idea that, though “the rubbish you find in the street is ugly, [when] you remove the smell, it becomes beautiful.”
Since the beginning of their career, Bertozzi & Casoni saw in pottery the opportunity to revitalize an artform. Their approach to ceramics is characterized by hyper-realistic recreations of real-life objects. In this mimetic ceramic form, their objects make permanent what we perceive to be the transient markers of our existence – a luxury handbag or a broken eggshell. Their work simultaneously creates illusions and shatters them – forcing you to realize that the objects they present before you are, despite their realism, made of ceramic, and in the wake of that realization, to question your perception of the object itself.
Giampaolo Bertozzi, born in Borgo Tossignano in 1957, and Stefano Dal Monte Casoni, born in Lugo di Romagna in 1961, met as students at the Gaetano Ballardini Ceramic Art Institute in Faenza, Italy. Their work was featured in the Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2009 and 2011. Solo museum exhibitions include a survey at Castello Sforzesco and Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche in Faenza (2008-09), a solo show at Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali, Polignano a Mare, Italy (2011-12); and “Bertozzi & Casoni: Timeless” at the Museum Beelden aan Zee, Den Haag, The Netherlands (2013). Recent solo museum exhibitions include MAMbo, Museo d’Arte Moderna, Bologna (2015-16); Palazzo Poggi, Bologna (2017); Museo MARCA, Catanzaro (2019); and Museo Morandi, Bologna (2019-20). In 2017, Museo Bertozzi & Casoni, a permanent exhibition space devoted to their work, opened at the Cavallerizza Ducale in Sassuolo, Italy. Bertozzi & Casoni currently live and work in Imola, Italy. This will be their third solo show at Sperone Westwater, New York, preceded by one in 2005 and in 2015.