Southard Reid are proud to present the exhibition Voodoo Paintings, new work by Benedetto Chirco.
Chirco’s practice, which has encompassed painting, drawings, collage, sculpture, video and installation, draws directly from himself and his Italian background. He uses furnishings and books of his own, as well as those of family and friends’, as the raw material with which to create work both personal and universally familiar.
With Voodoo Paintings, Chirco brings the focus to the bourgeois living room, signified by generic paintings of landscape, still life, portrait or prints. He isolates the paintings as symbolic objects representing culture, taste, tradition and generational influence. In his accompanying text to the exhibition, Chirco opens with a reference to Freud and his idea of the Totem, the male figure wielding dominance over the domestic environment. Chirco introduces the idea of a challenge towards Totemic established hierarchy : “The young clan of the living-room refute the religious fetishes and paintings of the apartment, educatory elements that delineate a landscape diverse from that envisagedA mirror and a print in their original form, are ‘vandalised’ by Chirco using black spray-paint. A copy of a classical river landscape in mock heavy gilt frame, is cut in two, the severed lower half placed on top of the upper half, like a cut from a film reel. Chirco includes his own versions of genre paintings, portraits of portraits, still life and abstract painting. Sometimes subject matter is subverted, for example a female figure replaced by a male, or what was a figurative subject is entirely blacked out by paint.
Installed in an adjacent room to the gallery is a film of abstract black and white vertical columns, moving at varying speed. The projection is accompanied by a recording of an Elgar cello concerto (“Sunday music” as Chirco refers to it in his text) that has been reworked by Chirco. His arrangement cuts melody from the original piece, leaving abstracted sections of almost violent strings. A large Kentia palm on a stand dominates the room suggesting another domestic space as well as evoking a link with the Sicilian culture of Chirco and his work.
Benny Chirco was born in 1980 in Marsala, Italy. He has had solo exhibitions at Francesco Pantaleone Contemporary, Palermo (Gentlemen, 2008), White Cubical, London (Confessionale, 2010), and projects at Atelier Yohji Yamamoto, Milan (2010) and Q Forum, Golden Square, London (Documentary, 2011). In March/April 2011 he has a solo exhibition at A Palazzo Gallery, Brescia. Currently his work is included inPaesaggio e Popolo in Sicilia at Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Palazzo Riso, Palermo.