Street Levels Gallery inaugurates the new solo exhibition of the artist Nian on Friday, June the 19th, 2022 inside the exhibition space of Via Palazzuolo 74AR, Florence.
INTRO represents an introspective journey that, like many of the paths that tell our biographical story, has a well-defined beginning and an ending with a question mark. The beginning, therefore, lies on the surface, in the knowledge that we are social animals prone to confrontation with other subjectivities: The sometimes redemptive, sometimes compromising nature of interpersonal relationships is the first place the artist probes to become aware of one’s own self among the “what if” numbers of existence.
Intro, from the lat. intro “inside,” indicates an inward movement: the etymology of the word suggests the progressive revelation of Nian’s inner self as, work after work, she lays bare her imagination in a restitution dedicated to the public and to herself. The exhibition space is thus transformed into a conceptual room, and the artist’s production is revealed for its therapeutic, cognitive and self-representational nature. Nian’s works are inhabited by a seasonal imprint, her investigation proceeding by emotional cycles punctuated by her relational experience and places of questioning. Bodies, portraits, faces. The creatures that inhabit the artist’s pictorial universe celebrate the reflective capacity of human beings, the points of intonation and those of disagreement, in an attempt to transcend their contradictions in order to find their place in the world.
Intro is the private space, the hidden place, the secret that comes alive in the very act of feeling confessed. The principle, the origin, the primitive root of a new life. It is an ethereal and physical dimension at the same time; the space that cannot be polluted by the neuroses of the present. It is a sacred feeling, inherent to the spirit and yet always epidermal, bony, and carnal.
As an artist with intimate and archetypal aesthetics, after years of research between the streets and the studio, with this solo exhibition Nian becomes aware of the strongly self-presenting matrix of the female universe that has always lived in her works. With this in mind, she has decided to delve into the depths of a self-analysis that she is aware of for the first time, and surrenders to the comforting joy of a confession that illuminates the mind and the heart. The artists’ works on display that have come out of the last two years follow the path of her pictorial evolution: from the outside to the inside, in an incessant spiral that digs deeper and deeper.
Bodies intertwined, wrapped, sometimes compressed in the space of the canvas, as if exploring the possible contortions of the limbs, gathering in a silent and inviolable intimacy; bodies understood as means of the soul; bodies that change to fit together; naked bodies and modest bodies. In their lively, vital dance, the bodies are criss-crossed by rhythmic waves, drawing curves, inlets and shorelines. The figures depicted by Nian live and move in space, following the lines drawn by nature, in an organic equilibrium in which everything is sinuous and everything breathes. The undulating movement of the body finds its natural echo in the bold curves of plants, as well as in those of animals, or in the soft shape of the amphora; a recurring theme in some works where the archaeo-mythological studies of the artist are evident.
The iconographies that populate the space of the work are part of these studies: a collection of images and allegories that refer to an ancient, almost tribal universe in which the animistic and natural elements are expressions of an innate and primitive mysticism. “The Language of the Goddess” is the book of the archaeologist Marija Gimbutas that guides the artist through the research on the mysterious language of symbols: birds and snakes become manifestations of a cult in which the female figure is central, understood as a sacred image, fertile divinity, flourishing presence, source of vital energy. The decorative motifs are talismans, floral stratagems, sometimes geometric, sometimes wavy that cross the canvas and innervate it with meanings.
And in this continuous undulation, everything flows, everything is water, everything washes and everything streams. It returns to flow because it is fluid, as Nian writes in her sketchbook, and she repeats it once, then twice, then ten, maybe a hundred times, letting the consciousness flow as well, as in a diary – free and elusive. The sketchbook represents the culmination of a continuous dialogue between the artist and the other versions of herself: within it flow disjointed reflections, poems, sketches, and images of disruptive expressive force, which do not undergo the filter of the canvas, born instead to be subjected to the gaze of the viewer. In the sketchbook, the loneliness is more painful, the sexuality more explicit, the seraphic balance of the canvas cracks and the feelings abandon themselves to anarchism.
Intro is a liberating gesture, an experiment in which painting is the viaticum for the resolution of a personal rebus. The artist paints and puts herself in order – paints and makes mistakes, then paints and starts again, paints and discovers her imagery. Each stage of the process is a further step towards synthesis: the figures free themselves from the intricate contortions, as if in view of a rediscovered harmony with their own essence, then they strip themselves of the superfluous, abandon the domestic space, and model an abstract and imaginary dimension in which the person, the animal, the goddess, and the artist are confounded.
Intro is introspection and introduction. It is an existential story even before an artistic one. It is the fluctuation of bodies that become harmonious arabesques, images-simulacra of a present pursued by the ancient and aimed at the future; the future life, the free and uncontrolled flourishing of the soul.
© Francesca Emanuela Zevola
Via Palazzuolo 74ar 50123, Firenze (FI)