Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea, Milano, Italy
October 12 - November 4, 2017
An essential element of El Gato Chimney's artistic practice is the research that the artist incessantly carries on by classifying the results of his studies into an archive composed of both objects and merely mental associations that, just like in Warburg's Bilderatlas, connect through not immediately perceivable affinities the matters he deals with: popular culture, the myth, natural history, and the way in which they intersect and repeat themselves. By showing, alongside the works generated by this process, the process itself in the entirety of each phase, it becomes art, thus freeing itself from the supporting role that would see it banished to the simple preparatory stage, and instead turning into the emblem of the importance that the aforementioned underground activity assumes in his work.
Driven by the same taxonomic impulse that has always pushed man to organize nature in the hope of making it his own, El Gato Chimney uses the method of cataloging to highlight the correspondences that govern the relationship between the idea and the work of art. The folkloric figure of the dancing bear is in fact a brilliant narrative stratagem to illustrate this hidden mechanism, as the bear itself represents the winter hibernation and the summer vitality, indissoluble one from the other, that follow each other in an eternal return not unlike that of the circularity of human thought.
The life-size watercolor Otto Mesi D'Inverno E Quattro D'Inferno (Eight Months Of Winter And Four Of Hell), whose title refers to the two relentless seasons that constitute the cycle of the year in the Alps, has as a protagonist a bear that, while still presenting the decorations typical of the farming ritual ceremonies – aimed at ensuring good health and abundant harvests – stands out on the underlying village, finally free from human yoke.
Also in the work Ogni Verità È Ricurva, Il Tempo Stesso È Un Circolo (All Truth Is Crooked, Time Itself Is A Circle), a clear allusion to the Nietzschean theory of the same name, the bear rebels against human duplicity, which, by loading it with propitiatory symbologies, would like to tame it and make it harmless, actually eradicating its feral and wild nature.
To accompany the two large-format watercolors, not only historical photos on the subject belonging to the artist's collection, but also a cloth mask inspired by European folklore, imbued with popular magic.
In Eterno Ritorno, El Gato Chimney thus presents a complex examination on the archive as an art form, while at the same time making us aware of the inescapable impossibility of human attempts to dominate the animal world.