War x Artifice, Feb4- March2nd, Opening Reception Feb6th, 2017, 6-8 pm
SVA Gramercy Gallery,
209 East 23 rd Street.
NY, NY 10010
In War x Artifice, Riccardo Vecchio called upon the 100 year anniversary of World War I to explore the relationship between war and the artifice of nation-state building and the creation of borders.
Vecchio focuses this exploration on the unearthly typography and transformation of a stunningly beautiful yet infamously brutal repository of human suffering – the mountain ranges of the Italian dolomites. Between 1915 and 1918, across this 11,000 foot elevated Alpine Ridge, horrific battles waged between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire each in its quest for military and political dominance in Europe. In an attempt to cut off the advance of the enemy, trenches and tunnels were dug into glaciers and rocks where tons of dynamite was exploded. Entire peaks imploded, burying many alive. Others succumbed to gunfire, avalanches and frost. Indeed, with the current rising waves of populist rhetoric and nationalism around the world, these mountains stand as witnesses and spectral presence for Vecchio of the carnage inflicted on man and nature in the pursuit of power and profits. Monuments to human vanity.
On location, it was clear that the starkly elegant forms in ice and rock were not benign natural geologic occurrences, but instead, scarred mountain peaks and craters blown up by relentless bombing almost a century ago. As the glaciers at the highest altitudes continue receding today, new war relics and corpses continue to surface. Up close it is possible to see the stress cracks in the rock, remnants of detonated bombs, and other after-effects of the war. The melting glaciers, revealing a virtual cemetery riddled with gravestones. Back in his studio, Vecchio explores the relationship between technologically advanced tools of visualization, such as Google earth and satellite imagery, and his firsthand experience, in order to depict the landscape as a projection of emotive states.
Using photographs taken on location as reminders of the unearthly spectrum of greys, mustards and lavenders he observed, and literally mapping his steps by creating 3-D silicone and sand models of the exact latitude and longitude of the places he had been, Vecchio creates monumental paintings.
Clearly referencing the Dolomites, but with no known landmarks and a dynamic play with perspective, Vecchio is able to transform the landscape into a magical place where the works take on a character of their own. Weaving together memory of place, with firsthand experience and digital technology, the works become a dynamic exploration of an imagined adventure; emotionally charged, and no less valid than those created on location.