This exhibition offers a curatorial selection of a body of work by Italian artist Glen Lasio – born in Milan in 1987 and raised between Italy and USA, where he graduated in Fine Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago. The selection includes nine paintings produced between 2014 and 2017 either in Lasio’s Milanese studio or during a residency at the cultural project Marieta in São Paulo, Brazil, and six monotypes printed in 2017 in Milan at Gate44, a print shop founded and directed by the artist.
Glen’s field of research is the city, in which he determines the objects of his representation. Crowds of individuals cross paths with each other, dialogue and fight within the urban environment, each and everyone of them in search of their own truths; the cities are public witnesses of our private lives and stories and it is precisely in the reminiscent spoils of human interactions that the artist’s interest lies.
Walls and streets around the cities bare physical proof of the interaction between individuals: a building, with perimetral white walls bordering the public street, receives the colorful mark of a graffiti; this gesture is rapidly denied and erased by the building’s caretaker who covers the invaded area with a different shade of white paint. This symbolic wall – once white and now scattered with gray scars – carries the stories of the people that passed by it; it is a monument to human existence.
While these images and signs – that hold the record of the stories of men – participate to our urban landscape, they are exposed to the passage of time and thus set into a historical (and conceptual) context. Transposing them from the streets to the canvases, Glen operates a suspension of time and judgment, removing all contextual determinations, all distances and conflicts. The moment they enter the confined space of the canvas the signs left by human actions, once subjective and meaningful, are now emptied and turned into objective elements, ready to be appropriated by the artist.
Inside this urban context, predominantly composed of artificial objects, the sky represents the proof that there is a non-human reality, something that transcends and overcomes our existence and puts ourselves in a limited, finite dimension.
The artworks that make up this exhibition – both paintings and monotypes -are emotional representations of our urban landscape, complete with skies, graffitis, rust, marble and granite, all removed from their original contexts and suspended in the artist’s acritic, atemporal, and de-humanized universe.
The paintings hold another key element for reading Glen Lasio’s production, beyond the object of his representation: scratches, accumulations and erased areas span across the pictorial surface, traces of the process that lead to the final composition. For instance, observing the painting “The Necessary Imperfection” we recognize a cloudy sky, crossed by a light curvy gesture on the background – possibly a graffiti tag detail – completing the image of a poetic urban sky. But, in the center of this scenery, a violent chisel mark wounds the image, revealing the artist’s presence, and action.
The creating process is tensioned by two distinct and opposite actions: on one side, Lasio applies logically and rationally the artistic objects of his choice to form the image he envisioned. Simultaneously, on the other hand, instinctively and emotionally, Glen brutally removes whole layers of paint, uncovering the objects below, or he suddenly overlays all signs with a new stratum, as to deny all effort done until that moment; the rational construction of the painting is threatened by the artist’s sudden deconstruction. The conflict between these two drives leads the artist to such a peak of psychological and emotional tension that painting becomes a painful and cathartic ritual: constantly frustrating his own efforts, the artist is able to transcend himself, embrace doubt and finitude and reach a new understanding of the self, making the paintings the physical record of his effort towards self-awareness.
text by Giovanni Perelli