A WANTON EXCHANGE
17 September | 3 December 2022
We open the season of 2022-2023 with Samuele Canestrari's first solo show! For the last two years Samuele worked with our curator Marth von Loeben on a new exhibition: A Wanton Exchange.
“The history of mankind is the history of our misunderstandings with god,
for he doesn't understand us, and we don't understand him.”
(José Saramago, Cain, 2009)
God is most of all a father figure. He is life-giving, life-taking and an entity that knows more than all of his human children roaming the earth. He created them and the earth they populate for the purpose of having his skill and glory praised while he tries and send them down the correct and holy path. He is omnipresent in controlling the actions of his disciples, making sure they discern bad from good and follow his advice, however counterintuitive and cruel it may sound to them, for humans often are not capable of fully understanding the will of god. But does god understand theirs?
In his book “Cain”, José Saramago describes key moments from the Old Testament from the point of view of Cain, who -as it seems- is the only one having a clear and unencumbered interpretation of the cruelty of the heavenly father. Just like any other human father figure, god is guilty of negligence and impatience, with a wide range of emotions that roam from light to dark: he can be loving, compassionate, protective and strong, but also governed by rage, jealousy, impulsivity and oversight. All the characters around Cain seem to advocate for god in the ferocity of his will, deeming the objects of his wrath as the rightful targets of divine justice, while Cain does not give him the benefit of the doubt even for a second. He considers god fully responsible for all his acts and challenges him at every chance he has, just like any rebellious child would against his father. Their perspectives cannot align and they will spend eternity misunderstanding one another.
Just as an omnipotent deity, artists possess too a life-and-death attitude towards their creations: they give birth to them, pulling them from nothingness; while they develop, artists are constantly steering them towards their own vision of what their creations should look like in the end; and finally, they decide whether or not they can be worthy of external gaze, of praise and are a satisfying representation of the artists’ skills.
Those who have a better insight into the creative process, though, know very well that it isn’t as smooth and straightforward as previously described. Art pieces, just as any type of creation, have a will of their own: they never come out as initially anticipated and they are often a much sharper reflection of the artist than what they want to admit.
The self-portraits in the latest drawings of Samuele Canestrari have a similar quality of independence in the way they have formed and in the way they show the character of their creator: the various stereotyped limbs are not an undeveloped end of their body, but a way of conveying messages and emotions that are often non-verbal. They might appear particularly convoluted to the viewer, but those incomprehensible features are just part of their charming and tormented being, a slight misunderstanding of form between the point of view of the creation and the one of the creator.
In the end, though, all the creatures in the drawings and their creator have a manner of finding balance and being able to accept their relationship of misunderstanding as an unspoken accord of mutual appreciation.