Eemyun Kang and Alessandro Roma
Curated by Irene Biolchini
23 June – 12 September 2020
In January 2019, the Chinese mission Chang’e-4 announced the first cotton leaf to shoot on the moon. The images taken portray a verdantly green piece of nature all alone among the predominant darkness. The leaf came to life in this total silence, in the intimacy of a confined space – the container placed on the lunar soil – in complete contrast with the wide open Space around it. A leaf/tongue laid on the ground, doomed to die because the lunar night, and its temperatures incompatible with the life of the shoot, will kill it in a single day.
The artistic quests of Eemyun Kang and Alessandro Roma have for long been concerned with the reproduction of nature. Not merely external nature, but that nature which is an uncertain refuge, a defiance, of certainties. It is not by chance, therefore, that Eemyun Kang, describing one of his most ambitious and complex series, Fungal Land (begun in 2006) declared: “I didn’t want the edges of the canvas to correspond any more with those of the painting, so that the spectator can travel from one painting to the next. Fungal Land can be considered as a space seen during different seasons, during different moments of the day, or from different viewpoints. The brushstrokes are transformed into fungus- es, water or air, or simply remain brushstrokes within the picture”1. Figuration and abstraction are brought together by pictorial practice. The hand movement precedes sense and guides the creation of more or less recognizable forms. The viewer is placed before shapes that are more or less known, but which avoid being strictly representational and are open to possible new interpretations. We are reminded of the work of Alessandro Roma, who has always been intrigued by a nature that is not necessarily welcoming or benign, but rather a terrain built of complexities, with respect to which the artist’s gesture imposes itself as a struggle between the interior and the exterior, between layers and colour. A form of painting not hedged in by borders and limits, as in his series of collages, which calls into question solids and voids. The artist developed this further in Form in transitions (2018), shown in the exhibition: a series of textures that crowd before our eyes, with holes through which we see springing signs that are absences, portions of cotton consumed by the bleach with which the artist paints.
Painting urges itself far beyond the margins of the frame, towards the spectator. It offers itself in all its contradictions, in a duality that, in the case of Eemyun Kang, encircles even the subject, funguses – substances at one and the same time edible and lethal. Describing this period of her career, the Korean-born artist recalls that she painted for hours on end in the silence of the night, in a state of suspension where she alone – the sole person awake – could penetrate the ambiguous territory of the creation of these potentially mortal forms. Her words bring to mind Alessandro Roma’s long walks in the Lombard countryside, contemplating the marshy rice-fields in the silence of dawn. As if solitude and silence were, for both artists, an inalienable creative moment. Or as if these solitudes, often experienced in cities very different from that of the artist’s birth – a certain nomadism is common to the life of both of them – might provide a starting point.
Chang’e-4 is part of Pocket Pair, a cycle of exhibitions coordinated by Marta Cereda and launched by Casa Testori in 2018. The title of the cycle takes up an expression from poker that indicates the situation in which a player has two cards, of equal value, and must bet on them. In the same way, the curators are betting on emerging talents, two artists of equal value, to give life to a high quality two-person exhibition, set up on the ground floor of Casa Testori where they are free to meet, even within the individual rooms, to visit each other, to dialogue closely.