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Carlo Cantini - Giampaolo di Cocco

il Doppio di Eros

curated by


6 October - 6 November 2012



Poetics of abandonment and of the irremediably hidden. This is Il Doppio di Eros, Eros’s Double: a two-faced divinity that could reappear today in a lucid and crafty era which seems to know its every secret. A god that does come back, but only if there are no dramatic acts or official declarations. So, a veiled return. The reappearance of a divinity hidden from view, with no floodlights. This is the intuition of two Florentine artists who, with their photographs and installations, present the treasure chests from which they have drawn the extraordinary repertoire of experiments on the image and evocation of sensuality. In this sense Eros’s Double  becomes the fragile manifestation of the beauty, fullness and sweetness of sensual love and the female body.
Comprising two quite distinct types of work, the title of this exhibition refers to the two ways of looking at Eros in the twofold acceptation given by the psychologist James Hillman, according to whom desire is immediate and physical on one hand and destructive and unachievable on the other. Brought to life over the two levels of the gallery, here both types find the place in which to make two different reflections: on one hand an enigmatic, veiled and profoundly symbolic interpretation (illustrated in the darkness of the lower level of the gallery, wanted by Giampaolo di Cocco) and on the other, a clear, immediate and formally classical annotation (in the full light of the ground floor of the gallery, occupied by Carlo Cantini).

Therefore, on one hand,  on the lower level we have the production of objects: small carousels of photographs which create movement, like magic lanterns, and kaleidoscopic viewers which (with their explicit erotic references) make the organic and mechanic conflagrate, like in a game of hybridisation between woman and machine. It is in this sense that one can say the images of Giampaolo di Cocco and the objects he has created are a perfect blend between women and device, once again characterising the imagination of the present. Precisely because they centre around the topic of mutation, the images become mouthpieces of transformation, proposing hybrid, shadowy and larval images. These celibate machines, consisting of drowned, fluctuating gestures immersed in depths that may be either oceanic or uterine, produce female gestures and nudities housed in small self-lit theatres that become dilated cavities. Eluding the principle of the marginality of a submerged and hidden space, they expand virtually as if they were film frames or portions of a world whose whole size is impossible to grasp. The stable, precise and fixed objects produced give way to that which creates a small flame, giving the artist the possibility to establish or metamorphose some interconnections. In these expressions of the current imagination on the sensuality and beauty of the man-woman relationship, the figures of this flow produce the very matter of the image, like pulsating, diaphanous and impalpable bodies, to perceive by candlelight, only regaining physicality in the mind’s projection.  
In the works of Carlo Cantini there is an impeccable and sincere act of vision which goes beyond photographic still lifes and their poetry. In this sense, for the photographer nature is an endless retranslation of the body and things; it is the continuous birth and destruction of forms, to be shown in the very place where it but hides nature from view. It is through this sort of continual revelation that the artist transforms into sensual objects what before was a simple natural thing. What he is more interested in, beyond the extensive register of reflections on nude photography, is the mesh of relations between the world of forms and the imagination, which in the case of Cantini links the bodies to the history of art, the history of photography and nature. In the end the artist chooses to narrate through sequences of images and through symbols, giving the possibility to build images that lead towards transforming horizons, with no interest for where some of these shots are actually collocated in time. A continual oscillation of presence and absence – and of past and present – in which melancholy or happiness become the skin of existence. A diaphragm between living and appearing, which becomes existing inside a sovereign assimilation between women’s bodies and the products of the land or the object, sceptre, bow or arrow, whichever it may be, which have come down to us from mythological memory. Cantini shows that he knows that being in harmony with ourselves, or the lack of inner dispute, comes about from consenting to what nature suggests, adapting to what flows, heedless of the only apparently incessant and variable transit of time.
Therefore, Eros’s Double builds a multiform prism where Woman’s angular complexity dwells, a transcendent gaze that chooses Eros from a male viewpoint in order to seek its intangibility in the prose of everyday life. For both artists, the body becomes metaphysical, they scrutinise its evident or hidden beauty, without thereby wanting either to excite or shift the focus to fetishistic aspects. On the contrary, both are interested in how a gesture holds hidden stories, details of the body that have become the missing pieces of a world that envelopes us, but of which we are often no longer aware.   
Two photographic situations that probe the depths in a respectful and sensitive manner, according to a profound love for life meant as the natural place of sensual exchange between bodies. A single force of attraction transmitted onto the subjects’ skins, treated as the container of emotions, the rebirth of life, an eye capable of drawing invisible wires and impossible theatre wings. Two projects that come out from the blackness of a mysterious backstage, from an obscurity that is not darkness but just waiting for the next light. Therefore, Eros as the divinity embodied that as such wants to gaze onto, once again, the amazing spectacle of the world.  


Matilde Puleo

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