by Dilpreet BhullarSep 17, 2022
The exhibition On Breakfasts and Ambushes by the Italy-based multimedia artist, Francesco Snote, at L.U.P.O., Milan, puts the sculptures and drawings on the display as a way to recreate the space of transition. Crucial to the exhibition is the biblical figure of Lazarus, who is resurrected by Jesus even after being entombed for four days. The evangelical character in the exhibition turns into a conceptual metaphor in the hands of the artist to represent the balancing act between the revealed and the occult. Inhabiting the place of in-betweenness – laid between evident transcendences and references - the body of work attempts to situate redemption when it transgresses the border of conventional time frame: past and present. In other words, the works mediate between the drowsiness experienced at breakfast and the bewilderment encountered at the time of the ambush.
Talking about the two diverse activities of human life – breakfast and ambush - to which the title of the exhibition refers, Snote in an interview with STIR says, “Breakfasts and ambushes are two events that hide a good and necessary dose of the unknown, essential to contemplate the works. In the first case, breakfast is that first morning event in which you have just re-entered this world and need to nourish yourself to prepare for all the contingencies of the day to come. It is a crucial process to be born again every morning and also a very reactionary stance. In the second case, I thought of the ambush because I believe that sometimes my sculptures perform more a process of concealment than exposure.”
The American novelist and essayist Jonathan Franzen in his article What If We Stopped Pretending? says, which is also referred to in this exhibition, “Despite the regrettable fact that I will soon be dead forever, I live in the present, not in the future. Faced with the choice between an alarming draw (death) and the reassuring evidence of my senses (breakfast!) my mind prefers to focus on the latter."
The sculptures by Snote remain far from being an embodiment of precision only to lend an idea of progression. A way to lead his choices that appear provisional, the artist steers the “process of disorientation that misleads time and betrays conventional references without hiding from the present”. The faces at the verge of melting are marked by conspicuous undefined silhouettes. The sculpture – an embodiment of travesty - if mocks at the incessant effort to achieve an ideal state of perfection, also cheerfully stimulates a way of thinking between the passages of times.
Since the works exude the idea of metaphysics, the artist does not refrain to mention, “The studio is not a place where all the processes from idea to execution take place. Most of the time the signs and images come to me wherever I am.” The process of production and accomplishment is a delicate and intimate affair performed in a studio which, “is in an abandoned wool factory in front of a stream and I am the only tenant of this skeleton.”
The 11 works on paper have a ubiquitous presence of a window in an effort to underscore the sense of abandonment. “These are show-images that do not make use of rhetoric to suggest, within a simulacrum of the environment, hidden reasons hidden behind the weight of allegory.”
As the exhibition highlights sculptures and drawings, Snote takes us through the making of these works and his material choices, “For my drawings, I use a very thick cotton-based paper. Almost like a wooden board. For sculptures, on the other hand, I use a variety of different materials that I somehow ‘patent’. I use a lot of building materials because my sculptures are a bit like houses as there is always an internal part that is difficult to find. They have a structure very often similar to a human body and if you think about it houses are like bodies, with bones, skin, organs, veins and arteries. The choice of materials, both in the design and in the sculpture, is dictated by the fact that I like to think that I could do the same work anywhere in the world. Therefore, the materials that I use can be found anywhere and are both easy to form and to assemble.”
If the ambivalence of the body of work restricts the viewers to have a unidimensional perspective on things it also helps Snote to realise what he comments as “never have a one-sided way of looking at a work or an exhibition”.
The exhibition On Breakfasts and Ambushes runs at L.U.P.O., Milan until October 31, 2021.