Patrizio Di Massimo

Self Portrait as a Model, 2017

Oil on Linen

150 x 150 cm


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Artwork
Description

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Patrizio Di Massimo created Self Portrait as a Model in tandem with another artwork—a performance piece with the same name, in which viewers are encouraged to draw a male model, as in a life-drawing class. The two works have been showed simultaneously, the painting in Turin and the performance piece in Milan at HangarBicocca Museum.

This manifestation of Self Portrait as a Model is emblematic of Di Massimo’s current figurative style. Its relevance to the artist’s performance piece is clear in light of the ‘model and artist’ theme which the two works have in common. But this painting is not a simple mimesis of its partner, for its distinct medium has a distinct impact upon the shared subject-matter. The practice of depicting a model (which becomes an inclusive, ever-incomplete experiment in Di Massimo’s performance piece) was, in the case of this oil painting, undertaken by the artist alone, behind the scenes. We are only party to the finished product; and, not coincidentally, that finished product depicts the process of painting a model as a similarly mysterious and individual process. The woman, easel and model form a perfect tableau which can only be experienced from without: the viewer is teasingly excluded from her individual perspective on the male figure.

It is precisely this divergence which makes such an insightful partnership out of Patrizio Di Massimo’s painting and performance piece. Each represents one extreme of the ongoing debate about how art should be created and consumed so that, taken together, the works suggest that a successful artistic practice might one which incorporates many diverse approaches.

About
the artist

Patrizio di Massimo was born in Jesi, Italy, in 1983. He was formally educated at Brera, Milan’s Academy of Fine Arts between 2003-2007, eventually moving on to complete a Master of Arts at Slade School of Fine Art in London 2007-2009.  He now lives and works in London.

On one hand, Di Massimo is a historiographer; his early work reexamines the politics of modernist European conflict and the failure of the continental utopia. By revealing the corruptible nature of historical inheritance, Di Massimo has challenged the basis for Western cultural hegemony, notably commenting on Italy’s attempt to colonise Ethiopia and Libya during the first half of the 20th century.

Yet what begins as an investigation of socio-political or historical issues often turns from “an aesthetic experience into a cognitive act,” and new generations attach contemporary value to the concerns of the past. Artifactual data has been continually framed as art throughout history, and a kind of rhetorical appropriation of its significance has arisen out of cultural memory and the politics with which it is displayed.

Such a collective approach to history fascinated Di Massimo and has figured prominently in his video, photography, and performance work, but lately he has instead been exploring more intimate and evocative imagery through painting and the genre of portraiture, self-portraiture specifically, one that is aptly suited to move his practice in a more personal direction.

Despite graduating from The Slade School of Fine Art in 2009, Di Massimo is a self-taught painter, and each of his canvases is an attempt to “restore the painting’s ancient functions of illustration and visual storytelling.” For the artist, “working with themes of the past means re-structuring them in the present.” Indeed, his paintings carry visible traces of his inspirations (from Otto Dix to Walt Disney), but they are reinvented for the modern eye.

In Di Massimo’s paintings, the human figure remains at the centre, but the boundaries of its poetics are pushed to the twisted, the eerie, and, most overtly, the erotic. The body is a spectacle, beguiling while simultaneously hedonistic, lewd, or even violent. They are performative, and the viewer notes that the same personages appear as if they are projections of the artist’s own ego. Di Massimo’s works can thus be viewed as, at least in part, self portraits, for he explores the intersection between fantasy and reality so central to individual human consciousness.


In Di Massimo’s paintings, the human figure remains at the centre, but the boundaries of its poetics are pushed to the twisted, the eerie, and, most overtly, the erotic. The body is a spectacle, beguiling while simultaneously hedonistic, lewd, or even violent.

For the artist, “working with themes of the past means re-structuring them in the present.” Indeed, his paintings carry visible traces of his inspirations (from Otto Dix to Walt Disney), but they are reinvented for the modern eye.


Patrizio Di Massimo
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition

November 2nd, 2017 until
December 29th, 2017
Curated by ARTUNER