Galleria Lorcan O’Neill is pleased to announce the opening of The Last Stand, an exhibition of new abstract works by Gianni Politi. Made over long lockdown hours in his studio in Rome, the show includes a group of monumental canvases, the largest of which measures 3.5 x 8 meters.
The largest work, The Last Stand (2021), is a work consisting of five panels. The title refers to a painting of the same name by English artist William Barnes Wollen (1875-1936) depicting a scene from the first Anglo-Afghan war (1842), during which a handful of English soldiers were decimated by Afghan forces in the mountains following their retreat from Kabul.
How can an abstract painter speak of our current reality?
Politi responds by reinterpreting the codes of religious and history painting - of which Barnes Wollen's painting is an excellent example, while maintaining the monumental dimensions typical of such genres.
In this sense, Politi's The Last Stand preserves a narrative clue only in the format, while the combination of pure and rich colours inspired by great Venetian masters such as Titian and Veronese brings the viewer’s attention back to the essential visual joy of looking at good painting.
While The Last Stand originates from the tradition of battle paintings, Unsustainable, (2021), the other monumental work in this exhibition, refers to both the physical size, as well as the psychological impact on a young artist, of the imposing religious canvases that crowd the history of Italian art.
Behind Politi's reflections there is a personal experience. He remembers his first encounters with art as a child: seeing the large history paintings by Michele Cammarano at the National Gallery in Rome, and kneeling at the altarpieces of numerous churches in Roman.
The exhibition questions the relationship between artistic practice and contemporaneity, reflecting on complex issues: from today's geo-political situation to the social responsibilities of the artist in society.
Gianni Politi (Rome, 1986) lives and works in Rome.
His recent projects include a performance at Palazzo Barberini, Rome; an exhibition curated by Sarah McCrory of sculptures and paintings in Monteverdi, Sienna, 2019; Fonderia Artistica Battaglia, Milan, 2018; McNamara Art Projects, Hong Kong, 2018; 56 Henry Street, New York, 2018; Nomas Foundation, Rome, 2015; MAXXI, Rome, 2015; National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome, 2014; Institute of Italian Culture, Prague, 2014.