Serena Vestrucci

Trucco, 2018

Eyeshadow on canvas 6 days

80 × 60 cm

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A timid, powdery pink rises above dark nebulae: an abstract dawn, or a possible heaven. Alluring clouds of ethereal powder realised in eyeshadow and blush are gently applied to the canvas.

As often happens with Vestrucci’s work, the viewer is taken aback: the apparent simplicity of ordinary materials turns in on itself to produce an unexpected, extraordinary object.

Trucco (2017) is an ongoing series of eyeshadows on canvas; the title self-consciously hints at the materials used. In Italian ‘trucco’ has a double meaning, both ‘makeup’ and ‘magic trick’. Vestrucci draws out this confluence of meaning, utilising the effects of the former to conjure up unexpected, dream-like landscapes.

The ambiguity generated by the two words points out the deeper re-elaboration made by the artist: the role of canvas as secondary painting’s substrate is shown as the passive subject of the act of painting. The makeup usually disguises the human face, here it disguises the canvas.

In unconventional guises even the most common objects, like canvas and makeup, can reveal facets of their nature: facets ordinarily subordinated and eventually forgotten.

the artist

Serena Vestrucci was born in Milan, Italy in 1986. She graduated from the Accademia delle Belle Arti di Brera (Milan). After a long stay in Berlin the artist returned to Italy to attend the Università IUAV (Venice), graduating in 2013.

Since 2010, Vestrucci has had residencies in Italy, Belgium and Serbia  and shown her work internationally in museums and foundations such as the Stedelijk Museum, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin) and Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa (Venice). In 2014 Vestrucci became a member of Fondazione Mulatta’s artists’ collective, and in 2017 she won the eighteenth edition of the Cairo Prize. The artist currently lives and works in Italy.

Serena Vestrucci works across a wide range of media, from painting to sculpture and video. She lets the process guide her work, visually exploring the limits and rules of each media, indulging in serendipity and utilising accident and chance. Her works are heavily characterised by the materials she uses: markers, colourful sheets of paper, cardboard, wood, napkins or, as is the case for her works featured here, make-up - ordinary or everyday items. Undertaking a tentative creative process full of uncertainties, slips and intervals, both technical and conceptual,  Vestrucci modifies and re-elaborates the materials. She confers on them new shapes, giving new facets to the ordinary: producing a new order, a new way of seeing. Vestrucci describes her practice as “cheating the ordinary”, by amplifying and subverting its materials, her outcomes recast it in an extra-ordinary shape. As the artist says, just like confetti, “ in order to make them work you have to blow them up”. 

Vestrucci’s aptitude for visual and verbal puns can be clearly seen in “Trucco” (2014-2018), an ongoing series of paintings featured in the ARTUNER exhibition “ Memories arrested in space”. The series presents abstract and ethereal sky-like landscapes, realised in eyeshadow applied to the canvas. In Italian the word ‘trucco’ has a double meaning, both ‘makeup’ and ‘magic trick’, and the work delights in this ambiguity. The canvases are ‘made-up’; literally in the cosmetic products that suffuse their surfaces, and metaphorically, by reproducing illusive landscapes, the result of a painterly illusion. In this ironic game the role of the canvas as support of the painting is subverted: the use of make-up, which is often employed to highlight areas of the human face, plays an artistic trick turning the canvas into a visible subject, rather than bearer, of the painting process. The order is inverted, the ordinary is cheated.

Serena Vestrucci constantly refers to her viewer, inviting them to see things differently, to reconsider chance and the systems that govern our lives; but fundamentally she desires that, in the Romantic tradition, we gain an extra-ordinary relationship to and insight of the world through the artwork. In her words: “When I look at an artwork I attempt to complicate my relationship with the world. It is a romantic relationship, it is the moment when our eyes set on the world lured by the desire of knowing it, of connecting with it. By doing so, I don’t want necessarily say that being moved is important, but, at one point, it is not a matter of explanation, caption or word. There is something you have to feel. Whether you feel it or not. Whether it’s there or not.”

When I look at an artwork I attempt to complicate my relationship with the world. It is a romantic relationship, it is the moment when our eyes set on the world lured by the desire of knowing it, of connecting with it. – Serena Vestrucci

Serena Vestrucci
on Artuner

Part of the

October 1st, 2018 until
November 9th, 2018
Curated by ARTUNER