BerlinGiulia Andreani: Kitchen Knife
Galerie Max Hetzler presents Kitchen Knife, Giulia Andreani’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, and the first in Berlin.
Central themes in Giulia Andreani’s work include the perception of women in art and society, the contemporary and the historical, motherhood, trauma and forgotten figures in politics and art history. Unearthing buried narratives, the artist creates a dialogue with the past to reconstruct prescient stories that can guide us into the future.
Sociological and historical research deeply inform Andreani’s practice, “feeding the painting”, with research which draws on historical from the public domain and from archives, as well as from private family albums. The artist works exclusively in Payne’s grey, which is suited to her use of photography as source material, aiming either to bring to light historically forgotten narratives, or to exorcise politically or historically difficult characters. The paintings almost exclusively show human figures or portraits, with the eyes being the focal point, as the gaze forms the point of contact between the artist and her source material, and again between painting and viewer.
Andreani centres this exhibition around several themes. The first of these comprises a group of works which reflect on the male tradition in art as the background against which any reception of a young painter takes place. One of these is Female gaze, 2021, a portrait of German film director Leni Riefenstahl, superficially emancipated and prominent in her artistic endeavours, but essentially dependent on her following and representing the views of a fascist dictatorship. The large canvas Like a girl in a peep show, 2021, plays on the differing perspectives of the male artistic gaze and on Andreani’s position to this, not only as a painter, but as a woman and as a feminist. She also emphasises the reflected gaze of the viewers who bring their own individual and again differing perspectives to the work. While her work is about perception and reception, the latter especially is not always predictable and will change over the course of time. On this, Andreani quotes Algerian feminist lawyer Wassyla Tamzali, who explains: “If the past comes back to us, it is because of the present”.
Another thread includes two portraits of Franca Viola, 2021, a young Sicilian who in 1966 refused to enter into a “rehabilitating marriage” with her rapist, thereby becoming an important figure in Italian legislative history. Here, marriage is shown to be a patriarchal concept even within quite recent European history, covering for violence against women. Following on from there, we encounter ideas of maternity, ranging from the status bestowed on females in society through becoming mothers, to the passing on of knowledge from women throughout history. The large paintings Le cours de sculpture, 2021 and HEX(E), 2021 combine themes of powerful feminine wisdom and capability. Throughout art history depictions of maternity, both secular and religious, have played a huge part in our visual vocabulary; however, they tend to reinforce patriarchal notions of maternity, which Andreani is readdressing in HEX(E).
Three sculptures titled Sentinelles, 2019, complete the exhibition. They are made of glass in the traditional Murano technique, which uses gold within the glass, giving the works an appearance of skin. The sculptures represent the heads of three female artists whom Andreani greatly admires: Valentine Prax, Lucienne Heuvelmans and Hannah Höch. They act as guardians—benign, enlightened figures to whom the artist turns.
Giulia Andreani (*1985, Venice) lives and works in Paris. Andreani’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions in public institutions including the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dole (2020); Labanque, Béthune (2019); Villa Médicis, Rome (2018); Centre d’Art Nei Liicht de Dudelange, Luxembourg (2017); La Conserverie, Metz (2016); Lab Labanque Béthune, Richebourg (2014); Centre culturel l’Escale, Levallois (2013); and Premier Regard, Paris (2012), among others. Group exhibitions include Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebardengo, Turin; Monnaie de Paris, Paris; and Museo Civico Gigi Guadagnucci – Villa La Rinchiostra, Massa (2021); Musée d’Art Contemporain, Lyon; Passerelle Center for Contemporary Art, Brest; and Galleria Civica di Trento, The Mart, Trento (2020); Collection Lambert, Avignon; Musée d’Angoulême, Angoulême; MASP, São Paulo; and NordArt, Kunstwerk Carlshütte, Büdelsdorf (2019); Fondation Christian & Yvonne Zervos, La Goulotte, Vézelay; La Box, Bourges; and Villa Méditerranée, Marseille (2018); MAC VAL, Musée Départemental du Val de Marne, Vitry-sur Seine; Centre d’Art Contemporain, Meymac; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dole; and Musée départemental d’art contemporain, Rochechouart (2015); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013); and Sam Art Project Foundation, Villa Rafet, Paris (2011).
Giulia Andreani’s works are held in international public collections including Centre Pompidou, Paris; MASP, São Paulo; Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF), Paris; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; Centre Culturel Régional Opderschmelz, Dudelange; Collection de la Ville de Montrouge, Montrouge; FRAC Poitou-Charentes, Angoulême; Musée National de l’Histoire de l’Immigration (MNHI), Paris; and URDLA, Villeurbanne, among others.
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Max Hetzler