“Master Class: One Basquiat.” So pleased to have been invited as guest speaker at the Brooklyn Museum joining Monica Marino for a close look at Basquiat's "Untitled" (1982).
Uncover layers of Basquiat’s rarely seen painting Untitled, currently on display in One Basquiat. In this intimate and in-depth experience, painter Riccardo Vecchio, and educator, Monica Marino will lead an evening of close looking and conversation to investigate Basquiat’s painting from multiple perspectives. The discussion continues over drinks and snacks at The Norm.
One Basquiat is made possible through the generous support of Yusaku Maezawa.
1918, vor bald hundert Jahren, ging der Erste Weltkrieg zu Ende. Der deutsch-italienische Künstler Riccardo Vecchio wanderte durch die Dolomiten und zeichnete die Berge, an denen damals gekämpft und gestorben wurde. Von Mohamed Amjahid
ZEITmagazin Nr. 53/2017 19. Dezember 2017, 17:23 Uhr
Ob Gabriele D’Annunzio am 9. August 1918, kurz vor Ende des Ersten Weltkrieges, ein Auge für die Schönheit der Dolomiten gehabt hat, weiß man nicht. Auf jeden Fall flog D’Annunzio, italienischer Poet des Fin de Siècle und Propagandist des Militärs, an jenem Tag über sie hinweg, er saß hinter den Piloten einer kleinen Propellermaschine. Zusammen wollten sie von Padua nach Wien – der Hauptstadt des Feindes. An Bord hatte D’Annunzio Tausende grün-weiß-rote Flugblätter: Kriegspropaganda. Doch der Text war nur auf Italienisch zu lesen, sodass die meisten Wiener ihn nicht verstanden. D’Annunzio war das egal, er hatte sowieso nur die eigene, kriegsmüde Bevölkerung im Visier: In der italienischen Presse wurde der Propagandaflug hinterher bejubelt, und fürs Durchhalten versprachen die italienischen Kriegsführer ihrem Volk die Annexion der bis dahin zur Habsburgermonarchie gehörenden Dolomiten. Am Ende haben die Italiener den Gebirgskrieg auf 4000 Meter Höhe gegen Österreich-Ungarn gewonnen. Der Preis: Hunderttausende Menschen starben durch Granatbeschuss oder Kälte.
Der deutsch-italienische Künstler Riccardo Vecchio wanderte im Jahr 2014, hundert Jahre nach Beginn des Ersten Weltkrieges, wochenlang in den Dolomiten. In den folgenden Sommern kehrte er dorthin zurück, studierte Gipfel, Eisformationen und Bergwege, auf denen Maultiere einst Proviant für die Truppen transportierten. Sein Großvater Cesare war mit 18 Jahren in die italienische Armee eingezogen worden, wurde später von Österreichern gefangen genommen, konnte entkommen und floh im Sommer 1917 zu Fuß über die Berge nach Mailand.
"Ich kenne die Dolomiten von Ausflügen in meiner Kindheit. Ich bin dorthin zurückgekehrt, um das aktuelle Unbehagen in Europa zu verstehen", sagt Vecchio, 47, der seit zwanzig Jahren in New York lebt und arbeitet. Auch im Zweiten Weltkrieg wurden die Dolomiten zu einem Schauplatz des Grauens. Mit den schmelzenden Gletschern tauchen nun überall Relikte des Krieges auf, Vecchio fand bei seinen Reisen Einschlagkrater und Überreste von Bomben. "Angesichts des Aufkommens von rechtspopulistischer Rhetorik und Nationalismus überall auf der Welt sind diese Berge Zeugen vergangener Massaker im Namen von Machterhalt und Profit", sagt Vecchio.
In seinem Atelier in New York arbeitet er seit Jahren an den Ölgemälden. Detailversessen versucht Vecchio jeden Hang, jeden Felsen, jeden Gipfel so genau wie möglich nachzuzeichnen. Seine Mission sei es, die Erinnerung an das Grauen vergangener Tage für die Zukunft wachzuhalten, sagt er. Wer weiß zum Beispiel noch, dass am 13. Dezember 1916, an einem einzigen Tag also, Tausende Männer in Lawinen starben? Grenzen zwischen Ländern liegen oft in den Bergen, wo niemand wohnt. Es macht also fast keinen Unterschied, ob die Grenze ein paar Meter weiter hier oder da verläuft. Aber der Nationalismus lässt dafür Unzählige sterben.
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.
"From here you shall not pass!" selected paintings from the series "DI QUI NON SI PASSA!" (From Here You Shall Not Pass) are on view by appointment in the display cases in the Great Hall at the Duke House in Manhattan. Till March 29th 2016
For the past 2 years I have been working in the Italian Dolomites (Trentino and Veneto) on a series of works studying the topography and natural transformation of infamous World War 1 battle sites.
Ruins and urban rubble have been a reoccurring theme in my work for some time. I have always found a ruin created by man through warfare or urban neglect bizarrely intriguing. Eerie and romantic, these sites often have historical significance, and feel as if at any moment they could be at the tipping point from destruction to reconstruction. Maybe this is what I find so alluring, and what draws me to them. At current and former urban battle sites charred and disfigured by detonations and fires, the remaining ruins expose structural elements and intimat interiors. Missing roofs and walls bring stage light to dark rooms and a glimpse into rows of neighboring homes, where it’s possible to begin to imagine the lives of those who came before. Historically, during reconstruction some ruins have been preserved serving as warning memorials and political monuments. Left untouched, nature does its best to heal its marred skin, but all too often visible scars remain. Where former battle grounds are more accessible, for example on the French Belgian World War 1 border, Gettysburg or Waterloo, the fields are meticulously manicured and memorialized with museums cemeteries, and perhaps even a gruesomegift shop. In fact, today it is hard to believe they were the sites of such apocalyptic warfare. The words “battle” and “field, a seeming oxymoron. I chose one of the most implacable of these landscapes to begin my current series of works because of this stark contradiction.
Between 1915-1918, one of the most suggestive landscapes in Europe, The Dolomites on the Italian-Austrian borders, were the stage to some of the most horrendous conflicts of Word War 1. But, today you have to hike up high above the idyllic alpine ski and pastoral tracking tourism infrastructure to discover the scared battle fields. From a distance, it is even difficult to distinguish the natural geologic rock formations from the manmade gaps and rock slides caused by the detonations used during war time. But, upon closer inspection, the stress cracks in the rock, the deterioration of the stone, as well as the abnormal convex crater shapes, become visible and are clearly the after effects of war. Shredded metal from shell casings can still be found everywhere. Even today as the glaciers recede, they uncover corpses and intact telegraph and munitions barracks frozen in time. When enemy fire was not the cause of death, the steep terrain, freezing temperatures and avalanches where the largest cause of casualties. Trenches were dug into glaciers and rocks. Provisions, machinery, artillery and munitions were all carried by men and donkeys up thousands of feet into this savage and unsparing climate, that culminated into trench warfare that came to a complete stand still. A brutal and futile mission, fueled by manaical patrotism, with little to no military significance. In this landscape, deep tunnels were dug for shelter and storage. The narrow paths in such high altitude put opposing trenches only a few feet from each other. In order for one side to gain territory, or the highest amount of enemy casualties, tunnels were carved underneath enemy lines to create large chambers, and then filled with explosives. Sometimes thirty thousand kilograms of explosives. More than once, these detonations would manage to blow an entire mountain peak off, and the resulting shockwave would force the collapse or detonation of an adjacent mine chamber, burying hundreds of soldiers alive, those who were still digging or rigging fuses.
The knowledge of what took place in this setting, that in fact you are climbing up what is essentially a breathtakingly beautiful graveyard, was not lost on me. Evident is also the artifice of a state border and how muchblood had to be shed to draw it on a map. Even the physical limitations of having to travel with very little material and provisions, coupled with the difficult weather conditions, only made me feel more empathetic to those foot soldiers, affecting my depiction and interpretation of the sites in a way that I could never have imagined by sitting in my warm and comfortable studio in NY. Back in NY, I am continuing to work on larger versions of the numerous small paintings and drawings I had created on site.
I visited these sites in childhood, and now, at the 100th anniversary of the WW1, coupled with the current discontent in Europe, all came together to inspire me to walk those same paths again on borderlines that have been untouched, at least on paper, since World War II.
The MICHETTA originated during the Austrian occupation of Milan, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire reigned in Lombardy, after the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. As is the case, the occupiers, in this instance the Austrians, brought with them new foods which the Milanese adapted, and then transformed to make their own. One of these delicacies was a bread with the evocative name of “Kaisersemmel”, or "Emperor’s sandwich”, which was a sandwich weighing 50 to 90 grams in what was a traditional rose form. To spite the occupying Emperor and his Habsburg troops who guarded the city, the Milanese renamed the bread with the diminutive of “micca", "mica", or “Michetta" which originally meant “crumb”.
But, the primary transformation that took place and made it what it is to this day, had to do with the “architecture" of the bread. In the humid climate of Milan, the Kaisersemmel didn’t retain the freshness it had in the much drier climate of Vienna, where it would stay fresh and fragrant till evening. In Milan, the dough quickly absorbed the ever present humid air, making the bread stale and gummy very quickly. The intuition of the master bakers in Milan was to figure out a way to hollow out the bread, in effect emptying it, which immediately lightened it, and enabled it to maintain its crisp outer shell, ensuring a longer lasting and more fragrant and digestible bread.
My personal fascination with the Michetta has much more to do with nostalgia for my youth, and for a Milan that no longer exists for the most part. I don’t think you would be wrong if you said that the Michetta is the equivalent of a bagel for the native NY’er, in that it became essentially synonymous with the locale. In Milan, during the years I was growing up, most bakeries had few choices when it came to your everyday bread. So, the Michetta was paired with everything from Nutella (which was still relatively unknown outside of Italy), to your classic salami and Mortadella lunch time fare. These sandwiches became a scrumptious daily ritual in all school cafeterias and bars (bars in the Italian sense, that is to say, more like a café here).
In terms of shape, even though all Michette look slightly different, the general form is quite distinct and recognizable to anyone who grew up around them. They all have a distinguished oval octagonal form with a puck like growth coming out of the top, similar to the way the top of a bowl of stiffly beaten eggs look when you pull the egg beaters out of the bowl. And, as I mentioned above, the crust is very light and thin, and on the inside it is mostly hollow with pockets of moist, fragrant, and chewy wonderfulness. So, for the history, for the wistfulness for a youth gone, and most importantly, for the rush of feelings I get when I take that first bite, I love them and I decided to paint them.
Word and Image
Pictures are worth a thousand words. Paintings can be composed of boundless raw
materials, including food for thought, considerations of the flesh, and examination of
the physical locus of our being. Protein, carbohydrates, and encouragement are
what keep us going. Maps, phrases, and daily sustenance support and nourish our
daily existence. A random bullet can stop us dead and end everything in a second.
Paintings by Kate Ryan study meat: slain, drawn, and quartered chickens, entrails
and parts. Paintings of daily bread by artist Riccardo Vecchio, Michetta, form a series
of quietly intriguing unique observations. Word paintings by William Hempel,
including the Insults, painted with food-grade oils like poppy, linseed, and olive oil,
and the “Right Place at the Wrong Time,” series of paintings, made with a series of
physical constraints, remind us of the constant need for reassurance and
encouragement in our daily existence. Christopher Smith’s Underbody takes the
simple movement of paint and transforms it into a sensual meditation on perceived
reality. Piers Secunda collects bullet holes from actual sites of targeted violence, and
then molds them in paint, quietly asking big questions with small pieces of evidence
taken from random and pointless acts of aggression.
With perception, humor, and visual acuity, these artists convey a sense of daily
poetic transcendence over the quotidian lot of humanity.
Featuring paintings and video by William Hempel, Kate Ryan, Piers Secunda,
Christopher Smith, Riccardo Vecchio
Curated by Lisa A. Banner
229 Central Avenue, Brooklyn 11221