Two Italian artists Giovanni Ozzala (born in Florence in 1982) and Fabio Viale (born in Cuneo in northern Italy seven years earlier in 1975) bring different views of the connections between ancient and contemporary art.
Giovanni Ozzala’s website which starts with a powerful video of him standing alone on a sea wall with a desolate barren landscape behind him, as he looks out and calls to the ocean ‘Everything is in the wind for ages hence, in one sole path , the same wind, in an infinite message, towards the ocean’. Here at the Gazelli Art House, he has a video of the ocean with a pair of female legs rising out of the water to a speeding heatbeat and, as we wait to see them rise fully, they sink back again. The ocean is infinite…..
His painted works on show refer back to remnants of antiquity, with rough plaster covered in the graffiti of centuries. Are these remnants of wall paintings from antiquity or are they something new? You the viewer have to decide as you enter the gallery and also see bronze leaves which have been cast in the ancient technique of casting molten metal in a negative form. What Ozzola achieves is work which is timeless, poetic and draws in the viewers to find their own meaning.
Different in style, Fabio Viale continues the classical tradition of working in marble, though some of his works are irreverently modern, like huge interconnected black tyres.
Imagine those Greek gods and godesses wishing to be the height of fashion and popping down to their local tattoo parlour (never mind that tattoos traditionally were the artform of sailors and criminals in Mexican prisons). Viale’s work blends classical and modern, raising questions about our view of, and preoccupations with, the white polished perfection of classical sculpture and how marble can still be a used material to depict contemporary art objects. For me, one of the best works is ‘Constellation’ with its 55 black marble strips carefully carved in changing computerised patterns, which seems to engage with our contemporary digital age, such as the Channa Horwitz’s work currently on show at the Lisson Gallery (but then I am an architect, and enjoy this type of art).
This is the great thing about London: two different galleries on the same street (Dover Street) showing the different work of two almost-contemporary Italian artists.