Nel Silenzio Della Visione (In The Silence Of The Gaze)
The Bolognese painter Domenico Grenci (*1981) focuses his work on portraits of women. Using a mixture of oil, red chalk, bitumen and charcoal, he creates extremely delicate pictures in which the portrayed persons seem to appear only fleetingly. They appear very vulnerable and reserved, as if they only cautiously venture out into the world through the surface of the paper, or the canvas. Despite these facial features, which are usually only lightly hinted at, the sitters radiate a great calm and individuality. But a certain melancholy can also be felt in many of the pictures – especially in the women’s gaze.
Grenci’s work seems like a constant search for someone. The taxonomic cataloguing of the female figure expresses his fascination for the opposite sex and visualises his particular idea of beauty. The artist also calls the depicted women “Flemish Madonnas of today”.
Grenci’s personal construction of an intimate world is based on iconographic studies of various painters of European art history but also of non-European art and here especially of Japanese and Chinese painting. The delicate, fleeting ink brush paintings of these scroll paintings influenced him and can be felt in his work. In his studio there is a large collection of catalogues on painters such as Vermeer, Botticelli, Chardin, Whistler and many more, who in their works have given the depicted persons an unusual intensity, concentration and calmness. Without wanting to use these great masters as a comparison, Grenci’s work nevertheless appears in the light of this broad art historical basis as a certain contemporary continuation of this history.
Grenci uses photographs from journals and magazines depicting models as his motif inspiration. He uses solvents to remove elements that interfere with the dialogue with the viewer, such as advertising lettering. He erases backgrounds, traces the contours of the figure with bitumen, colours parts of the hair black, adds details, changes the physiognomy of the women and thus gives them a new personality. As a rule, the physical appearance of models is their profession; they blend completely into studio backdrops. This circumstance makes them a mere shell, the main focus is on the fashion they present.
Grenci rehabilitates these models, personalises them and gives them a soul. The faces leave a lot of room for interpretation. The absence of the background makes them appear solitary but also concentrated, and ensures the complete dissolution of the temporal dimension. At first glance, the portraits seem almost ghostly, like ancient photographs. Identity only emerges at the end of the creative process, through the addition of the title and thus the name. Grenci’s obsessive collection of female countenances is complemented by his latest flower still lifes. These motifs also stand for beauty and transience. Like the women’s faces, they address the inability to permanently hold on to beauty and thus forge a link to the idea of “vanitas”.
Opening: Saturday 12.11.2022, 17:00 – 21:00 hrs
Exhibition: 13.11.2022 – 14.01.2023
Opening hours: Wed. – Sat., 1 – 6 p.m. and by appointment