The first exhibition in Ireland by the leading young Italian figurative painter Margherita Manzelli opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday 26 May. Margherita Manzelli features nine strangely compelling large-scale works each presenting the distorted and disturbing female forms which have become synonymous with Manzelli's work. Documentation from a performance at MAXXI, Rome is also being shown.
Although Margherita Manzelli's paintings are not deliberately intended as self-portraits, they do betray a physical and psychic resemblance to the artist, echoing her earlier work in which performance was an important element. As she states, " I would like them to be different to me. And yet I realize that this very desire is symptomatic of the fact that something of myself remains in them." These invented bodies exhibit distortion of the flesh - in terms of colour, proportions, and their slightly unhealthy, emaciated shapes. They inhabit largely empty, abstract and anonymous spaces and are often frozen in awkward positions. They do not, however, seem caught off guard. Rather, they engage directly with the viewer, their silent questions creating a palpable tension between the two presences in the room: the painting and the viewer. Yet, despite their seemingly pitiful state, Manzelli's figures are not seeking the onlooker's sympathy or compassion, instead appearing almost defiant in the face of the viewer's existence.
In addition to Manzelli's own presence in her work, casual encounters with young women in the street are another source of inspiration. These too are subject to the artists selective interpretation - altered in proportion and reduced to their bare essentials.
The finished effect in both cases would appear to be almost outside the artists conscious control. In an interview with Flash Art International in 2000, Manzelli said: "I'm always surprised to see how certain subjects that I paint give a contrasting effect to what I had intended. I like to think that in this way the work is poking fun at me."
Commenting on the exhibition, IMMA Director Enrique Juncosa said "We are happy to present the first survey in Ireland of Margherita Manzelli, accompanied by the first monograph on her work, following her very recent international acclaim. We hope the show will be a discovery for the Irish audience."
Born in 1968 in Ravenna, Italy, Margherita Manzelli is one of the most important young Italian painters working today. Her works have been featured in a number of group and solo shows in Italy, including Castello di Rivoli, Turin and internationally at the Whitechapel, London; Centre d'Art Contemporain, Geneva, the Istanbul Biennial, 1999, the Sao Paolo Biennal, Brazil, 2002, and the Art Institute of Chicago, 2003.
The exhibition is curated by Paolo Colombo, MAXXI, Rome, and Rachael Thomas, Curator: Exhibitions, IMMA and is a co-production of MAXXI and IMMA.
Margherita Manzelli continues at IMMA until 12 September 2004.
The City Loves You
oil on linen
59 x 861/2 inches, 150 x 220cm
The Ophiuchus Collection