18 October – 14 November 2013
Josh Lilley is thrilled to announce the opening of Slosh, the second solo exhibition at the gallery by sculptor Benedetto Pietromarchi.
Time-traveling — not in the conventional sense of moving from place to place, but in the imaginative mode associated with the mental wanderer — is an important source of stimulation for Pietromarchi. The works in Slosh have emerged in large part from this meditative process, where fantastical structures, sculptures and drawings are fused with the more realistic concern of man's ecological footprint on the natural world.
Conceived during a moment of growing interest in ceramic and craft-based work within contemporary art, Pietromarchi's totemic sculptures and terracotta installations exist as physical expressions of seminal geological theories being discussed today. In his essay on The Matter of Memory, Eyal Weisman discusses the thoughts of atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen. Crutzen has determined that we no longer live in the geological era that began with the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago, the event that gave rise to human culture, but rather that we now inhabit a new geological epoch — one that we have produced ourselves. Humanity, he argues, has become one geological force amongst others, shaping the material properties of the planet with a power equivalent to that of volcanoes, earthquakes, and plate tectonics.
Pietromarchi's works in this exhibition engage with the concept that human psychology has geological consequences. The results are a paring-back of the divisions between the natural and the man-made, where formal and aesthetic entanglements are created between machine, life and the earth. This notion is articulated by Pietromarchi in a large-scale drawing representing an imaginary landscape. Within it one sees the tension between industry and nature: trees, birds, rocks and corals are all feeding from each other, extracting vital fluids for survival. This three-metre drawing becomes a sort of memory — an illusion kept away from the exhibition — whose physical expression is taken up by the various sculptures, drawings, tapestries and film within the space. The viewer is asked to enter the complexities of the drawing, walking through it as an installation.
Birds seem infected yet at the same time bejewelled by this process. Their totemic representations reflect a self-protection, while the schematic and elemental wall drawings and floor-based ceramics provide both a grid for extraction and an opportunity for regeneration.
Benedetto Pietromarchi (b. 1972, Rome) lives and works in Berlin. Pietromarchi studied at the Accademia delle Belle Arti de Carrara, Italy in 1998. Previous solo exhibitions include Another Place, Josh Lilley Gallery, London, 2011 and Carrozza, Flora Fairbairn Projects, London, 2007. Selected group exhibitions include A Change of Heart, The University of Leicesters Sculpture Garden, 2013, A Broken Fall, Josh Lilley Gallery, London, 2009 and A Heart of Glass, Shoreditch Town Hall, London, 2008. Pietromarchi was awarded the Kenneth Armitage Foundation Fellowship, 2009–2011.