Michael Bevilacqua: Fantasiamnesia

 

Gallery Faurschou Beijing

31 May – 29 June 2008

THIS EXHIBITION OF MICHAEL BEVILACQUA’S RECENT WORKS GIVES AN INTRODUCTION TO AN ARTIST, WHO STARTED OUT IN THE EARLY 1990’S, WHEN HE BECAME KNOWN FOR HIS POP-INSPIRED, BRIGHTLY COLOURED, GRAPHIC PAINTINGS.

SINCE THEN, THE FLAT, SHARP-EDGED FIGURATIONS AND THE NUMEROUS REFERENCES TO POPULAR CULTURE, CHARACTERISTIC OF BEVILACQUA’S EARLY WORKS, HAVE GRADUALLY BEEN REPLACED BY HIS DESIRE TO TEST NEW PAINTERLY TECHNIQUES AND EXPLORE A GREATER COMPLEXITY AND OPENNESS IN HIS COMPOSITIONS.

 

THE MOST REMARKABLE ABOUT MICHAEL BEVILACQUA’S PAINTINGS ARE THE COLOURS; THE BOLDNESS OF THE COMBINATIONS AND THE WAY HE CREATES SPACES WITH COLOUR. IN SPITE OF AN OFTEN VIBRANT COLOUR SCHEME, THERE IS ALSO A DARKER UNDERTONE – BOTH LITERALLY AND SYMBOLICALLY.

MICHAEL BEVILACQUA’S PAINTINGS HAVE A COLLAGE-LIKE QUALITY AND ARE COMPOSED FROM A MASS OF VISUAL FRAGMENTS – BOTH FIGURATIVE AND ABSTRACT; CULTURAL ICON AND PERSONAL REFERENCE. YET THE PAINTERLY QUALITY, THE WORK WITH THE BRUSH AND SPATULA, HAS INCREASINGLY REPLACED THE TAPE AND KNIFE OFTEN USED IN HIS EARLY WORKS. THE TACTILE TEXTURE OF THE CANVAS AND THE MANY LAYERS OF COLOURS HAVE MADE HIS PAINTINGS MORE POETIC AND ENIGMATIC.

 

MICHAEL BEVILACQUA IS AN INCREDIBLE VERSATILE ARTIST. HE CREATES IMAGINARY SPACES FILLED WITH ALL SORTS OF ELEMENTS THAT ALL PLAY A PART IN THE PAINTER’S PERSONAL UNIVERSE. HIS ECLECTICISM IS EXEMPLARY OF A POST-MODERN LEVELLING OF THE HIGH AND LOW, THE AESTHETIC AND THE NON-AESTHETIC, FINE ARTS AND MASS CULTURE. IT IS NOT A NEW THING, THOUGH, IN THE HISTORY OF ART TO “SAMPLE” OR “APPROPRIATE” FIGURES OR PATTERNS FROM VASTLY DIFFERENT SPHERES OF REALITY AND USING THEM TO CREATE NEW SPACES. THERE IS A LINEAGE FROM MICHAEL BEVILACQUA’S COMPOSITIONS BACK TO THE CLASSIC STILL LIFE TRADITION, FROM THE GOLDEN DUTCH PERIOD TO MORANDI – AS THERE IS A CLEAR AFFINITY TO EARLY MODERNISTS LIKE MATISSE, AND AVANT-GARDE MOVEMENTS EXPERIMENTING WITH THE COLLAGE, UP TO POP ARTISTS LIKE ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG OR CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS LIKE ASHLEY BICKERTON AND TAKASHI MURAKAMI.

 

THE MOST STRIKING OVERALL CHARACTERISTIC ABOUT MICHAEL BEVILACQUA’S PAINTINGS IS THAT THEY ENCOMPASS A VISUAL POWER THAT KNOCKS OVER THE VIEWER. HIS PAINTINGS ALMOST SHOUT AT YOU. HIS “CONTEMPORARY STILL LIVES” HAVE CATCHING IMAGERY. THEY ARE DIARIES OF EVERYDAY ENCOUNTERS WITH THE WORLD AS WELL AS ABSTRACTION AND CLEAR COLOURS. THE TACTILE SURFACES OF THE CANVASES ARE AESTHETICALLY APPEALING; AND MOST OF ALL MICHAEL BEVILACQUA HAS AN EXTREMELY INTELLIGENT TALENT FOR COMPOSING COLOUR – ALL MAKING HIM A UNIQUE AND VERY VITAL CONTEMPORARY PAINTER.

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