Matteo Negri
Curated by Daniele Capra
Casa Testori
22 May – 24 July 2016

Daniele Capra

While the art of dancing is quite distant from my physical stiffness, I always engage in a little rhythmic dance whenever I go into Matteo Negri’s studio. I’m not sure whether he does it on purpose to make me move (a very plausible hypothesis, one that is much approved by orthopaedics), but it is a lot more likely that he has an innate impulse to create works that stimulate the observer into adopting a kinetic approach, one that encourages them into observing and comparing from different viewpoints. This is one of the most personal and interesting aspects of his research: fighting the immobility and laziness of the viewer.
The project prepared for Casa Testori, of a great visual impact, is precisely aimed at overturning the ways of perceiving the location, the implicit path through which the exhibition space is enjoyed. In fact, the visitor is forced to adopt a point-of-view that is external to the building. The works accommodated inside the rooms of the house can only be viewed from the outside, urging the visitor into simultaneously becoming observer and man in movement – namely spectator and dancer.
The project called Splendida villa con giardino, viste incantevoli (Splendid villa with garden, enchanting views), whose title is reminiscent of Gadda’s Cognizione del dolore (Acquainted with Grief), hints at the language employed in real-estate ads, stems from the analysis of the functions of each single room in Casa Testori, each distinguished by different living purposes. Whereas Negri chooses to visually change their intended use, transforming every space into a place that is physically inaccessible to people, but one that can only be viewed through the garden windows. Therefore not only do paths change, but the visitor ceases to be a common passive player in a previously established itinerary and instead becomes a person urged into discovering some proposed contents. Hence the visitor becomes a flâneur who interacts with the environmental stimuli that appear before him: no longer receiver of contents, but discoverer of the same in the first person.

The works of Splendida villa con giardino, viste incantevoli testify to Matteo Negri’s multifaceted skills, ranging from installations of an environmental character (made using special mirrors, theatre lights and plants), to sculptures where composite materials are employed (such as epoxy resins, silicones), all the way to neon signs in the garden. And then the most classic bronze, used for the great rotating sculpture that occupies the largest space in Casa Testori – a dismantled and reassembled Vespa Piaggio scooter – that is not trapped in steel, but transformed into a device that offers different observation points.
I continue to harbour doubts as to whether sculpture has different goals compared to the bidimensional artistic practice. But we can certainly affirm that Negri does his best to express what it means to move, dance, to possess a kinetic kind of rhythm. I am already beating time with my foot.

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Five site-specific sculptural interventions for the ground floor spaces and the garden of the residence in Novate Milanese. Splendida villa con giardino, viste incantevoli, solo exhibition of Matteo Negri, is the project, of great visual impact, which has overturned the point of view and the way of using the space: the works hosted in the rooms of the house were, in fact, only visible from the outside, encouraging the visitor to be both observer and protagonist.

The exhibition, curated by Daniele Capra, is accompanied by a bilingual publication with images of the works in the spaces of the house, texts by the curator, a critical contribution by Flaminio Gualdoni and an interview with the artist by Giuseppe Frangi.

The event, together with Andrea Bianconi’s solo exhibition, was part of the Casa Testori exhibition A doppio senso, and was realised in collaboration with ABC-ARTE, Genova.

Matteo Negri‘s (San Donato, 1982) research is characterised by a prevalent interest in sculpture, although there are also works of a two-dimensional nature. Frequently hosted in public contexts, such as in Piazza Gae Aulenti in Milan (Multiplicity, 2015) and in various squares in Paris (L’egosÏme 2010), his works activate spaces with a sense of playful wonder.

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