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24 Jun 2011

Adrian Tranquilli at MACRO – Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Roma

'All is violent. All is bright', 2009/2011. 50000 cards, wood / 300x590x980 cm

Adrian Tranquilli: 'All Is Violent, All Is Bright'
MACRO – Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Roma


25 June – 30 October 2011 Opening: 24 June, 7 p.m.
Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (the ticket office closes at 9 p.m.). Closed Mondays

MACRO press office
+39 06 671070443

MACRO – Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Roma
Via Nizza 138,

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Adrian Tranquilli: 'All Is Violent, All Is Bright'
Curated by Gianluca Marziani

MACRO – Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Roma is presenting 'All Is Violent, All Is Bright', the new project that Adrian Tranquilli has designed specially for the architectural spaces of MACRO. The exhibition narrative emerges through two great installations – one inside, the other outside the museum – in which the public will enter into an active, dynamic relation with the works and the spaces.

Adrian Tranquilli (Melbourne, Australia, 1966) is transforming MACRO into a multi-level stage on which he will be showing two monumental installations that embody the philosophical vision of his iconographic universe. The architectural space is turned into an arena for a dynamic struggle between aesthetic and moral ambivalences, which appear here in the form of Batman and Joker, the archetypal characters who occupy two separate areas of the Museum – the external terrace and the roof of the conference hall – inviting visitors into an exciting journey of discovery, packed with surprises and wrong-footings.
The figure of Batman, which visitors can already see from outside, above the new Via Nizza entrance, on the highest, most open place of the Museum terrace, stands out against Odile Decq's discontinuous, abstract architectural surfaces that emerge like a mysterious presence in the amphitheatre of buildings all around. A heroic, superhuman figure associated with the ethical ideals of justice and salvation, here Batman is at the centre of a revelatory journey in which each visitor will unwittingly play a key role. The attempt to go up to and reach the work is dotted with hazards and surprises, with constant reversals of perspective in which the roles of observer and observed are unexpectedly confused. The difficulties in this journey of perception paradoxically help the viewer make effective use of the work, which acquires new communicative values and expressive potential through this spatial device. 'Heroes', says the artist, 'are projections of our humanness, and the images to which most individuals tend to adapt and measure up to. It is precisely in these projections that the sense of myth and, in particular, the various mythologies that have accompanied the history of civilisations, find their seminal elements. And this is no less true of the contemporary generations for which, if we think about it, superheroes constitute a perfect transposition of one of the fundamental structures of our model: that of the male Saviour and Dispenser of Good.'
Tranquilli's work is dotted around the premises at MACRO, unexpectedly popping up in another key area of the building: the roof of the conference hall, which is the red heart of the Museum foyer. In this space, which is both intimate and open, the artist is setting up another part of his exhibition 'narrative': an architectural structure – a building within the building – made of thousands of playing cards that bear an image filled with symbolism: the various 'faces' of the Joker, chosen from the countless portrayals of him made during the last century, and repeated and alternated to the point of obsession, creating an almost hypnotic effect. Another disorienting element is the shape of this house of cards, which simulates the proportions and monumental lines of St Peter's Basilica. A symbol of the city of Rome and indeed much more, for it is a cornerstone of Western culture: the building that epitomises Christianity is transformed into something very different and definitive. The embrace of Bernini's colonnade, the harmonious balance of the body of the basilica and of the dome appear in an unexpected form, both delicate and menacing. The figure of the Joker, which is by definition suspended between certainty and doubt, between 'violence' and 'enlightenment', is thus able to upset our perceptions and certainties, once again forcing us to make a critical, dialectic reflection on long-standing convictions and cultural models.
It is no coincidence that the two installations are indoors and out – on the sunlit terrace and in the nocturnal darkness of the new spaces. For years the world of American superheroes (from the schools of Marvel and DC Comics) has been the artist's main anthropological source of inspiration, and now at MACRO it takes shape in the form of a conflicting urban gigantism. On the one hand we see a vibrant black outside, in a sculptural Moloch standing out amid the top-lighting and disquieting walkways, and on the other we have the white of the playing cards that, on the contrary, electrify the still air above the conference hall, in spatial trajectories that raise a basilica up towards the sky, towards the transparency of a roof filled with natural light. Inside and out belong to a break in time that recreates ancestral sensations, mysterious rituals, revelations and encroachments. A sculptural vision around the theme of the Sacred and of the universal values inherent in human nature. This is a three-dimensional journey that looks to moral codes with dispassionate eyes and profound spirituality, seeking an iconographic impact that generates doubt through the mysticism of symbols.

Adrian Tranquilli
was born in Melbourne in 1966. He lives and works in Rome. His most important solo exhibitions include: 'Don't Forget the Joker' (Palazzo Reale, Milan 2010), 'All Is Violent, All Is Bright' (Mimmo Scogmamiglio arte contemporanea, Milan 2009), 'Don't Forget the Joker, Evidence, Future Imperfect' (Studio Stefania Miscetti, Rome 2006, 2001, 1998), 'The Age of Chance' (Mimmo Scognamiglio arte contemporanea, Naples 2005), 'These Imaginary Boys', (Parkhouse, Düsseldorf, Marella Arte Contemporanea, Milan 2004), and 'Believe' (Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome 2001). He has taken part in notable group exhibitions at art institutions of international renown, including La Maison Rouge, Fondation Antoine de Galbert, Paris 2009, Sala de Exposiciones, Madrid 2008, PAN – Palazzo delle Arti Napoli, Naples 2007, Botkyrka Konsthall, Stockholm 2007, Kunsthalle, Vienna 2006, ARCOS – Museo d'Arte Contemporanea del Sannio, Benevento 2006, GNAM – Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome 2005, MACRO – Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Roma, Rome 2003, Palazzo delle Papesse – Centro Arte Contemporanea, Siena 2003, Castel dell'Ovo, Naples 2002, IASPIS – The Swedish Arts Grants Committee's International Programme for Visual Artists, Stockholm 2002, Dalí Museum, St Petersburg (Florida) 2001.

The 'Adrian Tranquilli. All Is Violent, all Is Bright' exhibition is promoted by Roma Capitale, Assessorato alle Politiche Culturali e Centro Storico – Sovraintendenza ai Beni Culturali.

The collaboration of the British Institute of Rome in the English translation is gratefully acknowledged