Published on 20 March 2018

Lorand Hegyi (Credit: Melanie Lee)

By Melanie Lee

The Parkview Museum’s latest exhibition, “Challenging Beauty – Insights into Italian Contemporary Art”, features an eclectic range of Italian contemporary art from the private collection of late Parkview Group chairman, George Wong.

This is the first major Italian contemporary art exhibition to be held in Singapore. Curated by acclaimed curator and art historian Lorand Hegyi, the show features Italian artworks from the 1960s until today. They are organised historically according to the artistic movements of Arte Povera, Transavantgarde, New Roman School, as well as artistic positions of younger generations from the 1990s and 2000s.

“The exhibition is called ‘Challenging Beauty’ because beauty is an Italian obsession and this is a collection of Italian art. At the same time, Italian contemporary art has been challenging collective notions of beauty these past few decades and revealing different types of beauty such as inner beauty, dramatic beauty, sublime beauty, the beauty of fear and even the beauty of war,” Hegyi explains.

The curator also tells us more about some of the works you will see at “Challenging Beauty”.

SATURN (1983 – 1985) Mario Merz

Mario Merz_Saturn (1983-1985) Courtesy of The Parkview Museum Collection

“This is an example of the Arte Povera style. It is known for its emphasis on simplicity and materiality. The big question asked is, ‘What is the real thing?’ The artist Merz was a great sculptor and liked to connect painting with sculpture. What you see here is the iguana, an ancient, resilient animal with incredible energy. Surrounding it is the perfect globe – similar to what we saw in Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Vitruvian Man’. This work reminds us that we are all part of the universe and possess a creative force. It exudes metaphoric freedom with this strong animal.”

AT THE BAR (1981-1984) Salvo

Salvo At the bar (1981-84) Courtesy of The Parkview Museum Collection

“This is an example of the Neo Mannerism style, which saw a return to paintings, but approached in a new way. Artists from this movement consider the social context and focus more on banal reality. We see here a portrayal of an everyday scene – a pub in the village. At the same time, this painting reflects a bit of art history with hints of cubism and futurism. This kind of deconstruction in artistic language presented the idea of a ‘universal’ painter.”

THREE FOR YOU (2015) Gianni Dessi

Gianni Dessi Three for you (2015) Courtesy of The Parkview Museum Collection

“This is an example of the New Roman School style. Dessi is one of the founders of the New Roman School, which is characterised by its intellectual approach of creating art about artists and the philosophy of art. Here, you see one of the three sculptures of a cut-off head, which are self-portraits. This face is aged and in a grimace, dramatically conveying the idea of a tortured, suffering artist. He has no eyes, his sockets are caged, while his mouth is shut – presenting the problematic predicament of an artist who is limited by life and art itself: he wants to say something but he can’t speak; he wants to watch something but he can’t see.”

ST #7 (2007) Carla Matti

Carla Mattii ST#7 (2007) Courtesy of The Parkview Museum Collection

“After the New Roman School, the next generation of artists didn’t want to be labelled and they weren’t really interested in expressing any form of political tendencies. They focused more on ideas such as the fragility of life, which is what this artwork here expresses beautifully. Here, you see a poetic imitation of plants made out of plaster. Everything is white but there’s the shadow cast by this installation. There are three layers here – the actual plants this work was based on, the sculpture and the shadow it casts with illumination, creating a multiplication effect that’s quite postmodern and abstract. In essence, you see a presentation of different realities.”

“Challenging Beauty – Insights into Italian Contemporary Art” will be at the Parkview Museum till 19 August 2018. Click here more information.

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