Ana Cristea Gallery is delighted to present Nicola Samori’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. Like the eye adjusting to darkness, adaptation is necessary upon entering Samori’s visual cosmos. The images stare at us in an effort of denied vision. With the icy gaze of a femme fatale warning us that she is beyond our reach, they block our penetration. The images feel us, smell us, judge us. They are watching, but they don’t see. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. And we see through a glass, darkly. Sometimes peering in, other times peeling back in search of the surface beneath the surface beneath the surface.
More than a trick of the eye, Samori’s paintings treat their surface as a material skin transcribing the memory of their process. Violent transmutations distort his exquisite renderings of old masterpieces and force a reordering of our perception that is no longer intuitive. We begin to see the plethora of possibilities that resides in each creation. Unfettered by the constraints of temporal reality, the works translate themes into a form of expression that is immediately tangible to the senses.
The exhibition as a whole realizes a summa of Samori’s recent bodies of work. The microcosm centers three oval paintings around a stone head (Vertical Sea), a portrait that follows the natural geological formation of rock. Onyx draws concentric ovals, mineral plans that expand gradually from the tip of the nose. Samori’s reinterpretation of Sebastiano del Piombo’s portrait of Andrea Doria’s (D'Oria) dominates the room. The admiral watches us, distracting our gaze as his index finger peels open the painting’s skin to reveal the blue of a sea. Similarly we are observed by two other dark ovals eclipsing the colors and stories that lie beneath, pupils dilated to capacity against cold yellow walls. These paintings defend themselves in their darkness, cowering in a state of abject exhibitionism. An unfamiliar female form with bulbous extremeties (Fondamenta della Carne) sits across from a fragmented butterfly collection (Abito indenne) with a copper underbelly. Christ’s deposed body covered in plastic communicates with a painting of the Christ child, in which the central character is covered over in wipes of paint and incarnated in a mere blotch of yellow. The works succeed in materially exposing the sight beyond our seeing, upending the modernist argument of figuration as illusory.
Nicola Samori (b. 1977, Forli, Italy) currently lives and works in Bagnacavallo near Ravenna, Italy. Samori has exhibited in numerous institutions, public spaces and museums throughout Europe, including the Italian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale and the Palazzo Reale in Milan. In 2012, Kunsthalle Tubingen exhibited the first major institutional survey of his work. This year Samori was selected for the sixth VAF Foundation Award and exhibited at Shauwerk Sindelfingen. Samori’s work is currently exhibiting at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Lissone and in a survey including forty-five works at Palazzo Chiericati, Vicenza.
2 The eye takes approximately 20–30 minutes to fully adapt from bright sunlight to complete darkness and becomes ten thousand to one million times more sensitive than at full daylight. In this process, the eye's perception of color also changes. Dark adaptation is far quicker and deeper in young people than the elderly.
1 2 Corinthians 4:18