Italian sculptor explores contradictions

Old face to face with new

 ROME -- Francesco Vezzoli, the Italian contemporary artist and sculptor known worldwide for his innovative and striking pieces, will be putting on the first ever retrospective exhibition of his sculpture work at the Museion museum in Bolzano.

  One of the most prominent Italian artists on an international level, Vezzoli in this most recent exhibition will explore the confronting of contrasts, or "double faces" as he describes it; the historical and the contemporary, masculine and feminine, the known and the unknown. The 19 pieces on exhibit will be spread throughout the Museion, after which it is titled, posing a reflection on the museum's own displays and identity.

 In a press conference presenting the project, Vezzoli, humorous and modest, described the project as "fun", inspired by his own experiences as well as by the intended setting.

 Letizia Ragaglia, the director of Museion, praised Vezzoli's work for its "great 'scientificity'" and for its power in confronting the ancient from a new lens. She pointed to the ingenuity of his embracing of themes such as the figure of the artist, the authenticity of memory and the relevance of history in western art, all of which provide a provocative and perceptive insight into the place and role of art in the 21st-century.

 The Museion museum was born in the '80s from a group of artists who wanted to portray art as something "living", and to this day has continued to embrace innovative and challenging ideas through its collections.

 Based in a city with a tense historical past - Bolzano was home to a Nazi-run concentration camp during the Second World War - the museum has also tried to confront this, described by Vezzoli as adding to the "fascination" of the city. His exhibition that unites both old and modern then seems perfectly fitting for such a setting, as Ragaglia pointed out using the words of the Italian philosopher Giorgio Rapanelli: "There is no better way to understand the present, than to study the past."

 The exhibition will open on Jan. 29.   ft

Vezzoli and museum director Ragaglia at press conference, Rome
'Self-Portrait as Apollo del Belvedere’s Lover', 2011