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solo show
Stefano Spera
anchor points

02.10 | 06.11.2021
curated by Stefano Monti 
 

Between _ real and virtual

This text is a pre-text, that is, something that precedes the true content of anchor points,Stefano Spera's first solo show held at SMDOT / Contemporary Art in Udine. The content of the exhibition can be revealed to the viewer only after the exhibition has been installed. The works, their relationship with the space they are in and with the viewers are always fundamental for the activation of symbolic thought, even more so in this case. Stefano Spera has designed and created a site-specific installation with his paintings. He made the space his own, he decided to inhabit it and to create an space, both internal and external, in which to reflect and experience through the medium of painting our being in two, three or more dimensions. This is a space of passage, something in between, an empty box, which always allows for the possibility of movement, inviting us to constantly be in motion, a threshold from which to enter and exit, a filter in which to leave traces that lay between the real and the virtual. The individual works are hung on the walls or set on the floor. They each invite a profound individual attention, but at the same time the lead to a view of the whole. They leave the viewer with a feeling of disorientation, curiosity, attraction, enchantment and recognition. Our cognitive complexity that gives us access to articulated language and distinguishes us as humans, is expressed by manipulating symbols. When we talk or use the computer, we manipulate symbols and tell stories. Myths are a fitting beginning for an interesting story. In the case of this new project by Stefano Spera, the myth chosen is that of Hermes: the messenger of the gods, son of Zeus and the Pleiades Maia. Hermes is the counterpart of Mercury in Roman mythology; he was also believed to be the god of trade and thieves. In the various stories he is a divine interpreter, messenger, thief, deceptive speaker and good at trade thanks to his language skills: indeed, it was also said that his son was logos (speech and thought).
When we are searching, archiving or browsing, we are activating connections. Mythology and the myth of Hermes, with its history, images, symbolic connections and archetypal nature, is the device that leads us through different spaces. We might recognize these spaces as true, as popular beliefs or invented stories, but true nevertheless as they are documented in the great digital archive. Stefano Spera opens our perception, leads us to a curious, critical, profound observation and towards a new imagination, capable of discovering our cognitive biases through the figurative nature of painting. This painting does not only illustrate, but also identifies and represents a current sensation, managing to fix it. It creates an anchor point, a trace of our passage, a possibility of return, orientation and recognition of a reality that is always also composed of what has not yet been realized, of a potential reality, of something virtual. Stefano transforms SMDOT / Contemporary Art into an oasis where one can stop and quench one’s thirst, but where it is not possible to be distracted, where any spectacular element is abandoned in favour of a fascinating complexity. 

The Net (Hermes). The digital image of the incomplete bust of Hermes of Praxiteles is painted in oil on a triangular panel, placed on the floor in a corner of the gallery: it alters the space and alters our visual habits. Figuration, the support and the position act simultaneously by closing and opening our gaze, creating links with our memory, our imagination and our navigation.
FONS MERCVRII, Street View, oil on panel and print on vinyl, is the reactivation of a magical place which guaranteed the god's protection in business, bestowed eloquence and cunning, gave absolution for deceptions that had been committed, and protected those setting off on a journey. This is a spring where there is no longer any water, but the traces remain in the original position in Rome: a virtual wellspring, which through its memory and its pictorial presence in the exhibition space, still maintains the contradictions of its rituals and beliefs, offering them to a re-enchantment.
VR Filters (The Net), a vinyl print, positioned in a niche in the gallery, becomes an entrance between the physical space and the virtual one, a breakthrough in perspective that deliberately only looks right from a specific point and that distorts the physical space itself summoning a virtual, specular one. A number of red filters can be seen in this perspective which visually evoke Doric columns. They are positioned in the same point where the Hermes of Praxiteles is located in the physical gallery, giving it a symbolic interpretation.

TEMPLE NOT TEMPLE, Earth View, oil on panel and print on vinyl, is a suspended, deceptive image, showing the pictorial reconstruction of the temple of Mercury in Baia (in the Bacoli area of Naples). Once again in this case, the pictorial figuration captures and formalizes a popular belief, as this place was never a place of worship, but rather a spa from the Roman era. The texture (print on vinyl) highlights the anchoring points of the marble that covered the structure in the past.
These anchor points, which give the exhibition its title, represent Stefano Spera's attempt to show us that painting, and his works in particular, are objects of resistance. They document traces, calling on us to fight against the excessive power of the present in favour of a possible future. For this reason and with great sagacity the artist includes five other small painted panels: The Hermes transition, Check point, Access point, Like a window and The choice and the chance, to test us, to challenge us, to give us the possibility, to practice looking for more anchor points, which we need not to abandon the desire to see reality in its complexity.

Stefano Monti

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Exhibited artwork

The Net (Hermes)

80 x 69 x 2 cm

Contact for price

FONS MERCVRII, Street View

50 x 50 x 2 cm

Contact for price

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