works

Il Quinto Quarto

Fondazione Pastificio Cerere, Rome

16 April – 30 May 2015

Giuseppe Gallo’s solo exhibition Il quinto quarto (The Fifth Quarter), will open on 15 April 2015 at 19.00. Curated by Marcello Smarrelli, the exhibition is part of a series of events celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Pastificio Cerere Foundation and the 110th anniversary of the construction of the building that houses it. The show will remain open from 16 April to 30 May 2015.

Ten years after its birth the Foundation pays homage to the protagonists of the cultural and creative ferment that has animated the former pasta factory since the 1970s, with a cycle of six shows dedicated to Ceccobelli, Dessì, Gallo, Nunzio, Pizzi Cannella and Tirelli. Known as the “Gruppo di San Lorenzo,” these six artists were the first to recognize the potential of the disused building and to move their studios into it. Despite being in daily contact, they elaborated autonomous styles and languages, with differing outcomes. Their work continues to contribute to the contemporary art scene, demonstrating that it is possible to be rooted in a place, or indeed a single building, and at the same time belong to a vast international community of artists.

The artists were not given any precise concept to follow in ideating their shows, but were left free to conceive and present a pathway through their longstanding and articulated production. These six shows constitute just as many ideal journeys through the artists’ imaginaries, sources of inspiration and symbolic universes, intertwined with tales and recollections of the years spent in the former Pastificio, in relationship with the city and with friends, with collectors and gallerists, and with all those who have played a significant role in weaving these histories.

The Italian vernacular term quinto quarto – literally, the “fifth quarter” – denotes the insides and offal of livestock animals, as well as fowl giblets: those pieces of flesh distinguished from the animal’s traditionally edible four quarters. The culinary use of the quinto quarto dates back to antiquity, appearing as early as the Etruscan period. For the ancient Italian population, animal entrails also held a religious value, and the divinatory art of haruspicy consisted in the examination of the viscera of sacrificed animals for the purpose of divining heavenly signs and codes of conduct. The passion for this kind of food persisted throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, making its way into the modern cuisine of figures such as Auguste Escoffier and Pellegrino Artusi.

This title emphasizes the often irreverent irony characteristic of Giuseppe Gallo’s work, as well as its capacity for looking awry at reality. Il quinto quarto plays with the assonance between the terms interiora (insides) and interiore (interior), the latter understood in its philosophical sense of introspection and analysis of one’s own identity. The semantic nexus between interiora and interiore – a dirty, scrap part opposed to a noble and precious one – offers a possible interpretive key to the works. What remains constant is the search for a dialogue with nature, resulting in an approach that is both organic and geometric, held together by the abstractive power of drawing. Dominating over everything is the artists’s practice, his chef-like capacity for alchemic transformation: an ability to take something spurious and transform it, by means of technique, knowledge and imagination, into a dish for refined palates.

The focal point of the show is the homonymously titled site specific sculpture, composed of a pattern of interlinking wood pieces that create a self-supporting membrane. The work grows along and traces the edges of an ideally drawn golden rectangle, dividing the space in two parts: the one noble, the other contaminated. The concept of the golden proportion is also referenced in the two large paintings titled Secondo aureo and Terzo aureo: the fruit of the artist’s most recent production, the two are exhibited here for the first time.

For Giuseppe Gallo, this show marks another moment of reflection on the relations between man and nature, in keeping with a vision according to which “the nature of things is not inherently rigid, but contains in its balance the dominant criterium of its creations”: it is precisely from the search for this balance, in which each element is connected to the rest, that the artist’s practice arises.