6 Art Gallery Shows to See in May

Ettore Spalletti’s latest exhibition conceived by the artist before his passing; Bryan Adams’ celebrities; Helen Downie’s surreal world; Ivan Grubanov’s polyptychs; Sonia Kacem’s sculptures and Alice Ronchi’s new solo show.

Twelve years after the opening of the venue on Via Stilicone, Lia Rumma gallery hosts a solo show conceived and initiated by Ettore Spalletti before his passing in 2019. Werner J. Hannappel

Bryan Adams Exposed at Leica Galerie

Canadian singer-songwriter Bryan Adams has been dividing his time between music and photography for several years now. In 2021 he was chosen for the Pirelli calendar, which was postponed to 2022. He shot popular advertising campaigns, and his work has been featured in major media, including Vogue, GQ, and Interview Magazine. During his career as a self-taught photographer, Adams has published a half-dozen books and portrayed hundreds of celebrities, friends, and colleagues from the entertainment, fashion, and art worlds. The exhibition, titled “Exposed,” celebrates his work as a portraitist. Traditional studio portraits are juxtaposed with less conventional ones. In all of them, the photographer is the other protagonist. Adams manages to establish a special relationship with his subjects – they are often long-time friends – and delve into the more intimate nature of celebrities.

Ettore Spalletti at Lia Rumma

12 years after the opening of the venue on Via Stilicone, in Milan, which was inaugurated with a solo exhibition by Ettore Spalletti, Lia Rumma gallery hosts another solo show by the artist from Abruzzo. The project of the exhibition, curated by Studio Ettore Spalletti, had been conceived and initiated by the artist before his passing in 2019. On the ground floor, the visitor will be greeted by a metaphysical landscape composed of two sculptures, which appear as if suspended in the vast space: Colonna nel vuoto, 2019 and Ellisse, 2016. On the first floor is a series of works created in 2019 entitled Dittico, oro. Two colors meet on each panel, separated by a vertical line and enclosed in a frame tapered on the sides, covered in gold leaf. To complete the exhibition, on the second floor, a work presented in the last solo show at the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, in the Principality of Monaco, which is at the same time new as it was developed by the artist after the Monegasque show: a large installation of almost 1,500 books lined up on the shelves of a sequence of bookcases.

Helen Downie aka Unskilled Worker, Ceremony, 2021.

Helen Downie at Luca Tommasi Arte Contemporanea

“One cup of sugar” is Helen Downie’s first solo exhibition in Italy. Known as her instagram handle ‘Unskilled Worker,’ Downie discovered painting at the age of 48 and, she is self-taught, and quickly became internationally famous. “Helen and I met at the beginning of my journey,” recalls Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s creative director. “Ours was a magical encounter, made of fantasy, of non-places, of characters that came out of my mind, entered the catwalk and were then transported by Helen to another place, to her fairy-tale world”. The exhibition in Milan features 10 works: sophisticated compositions characterized by expressive figuration and bright colors, which reveal his style so unique that it has attracted great media attention and worldwide success. Her paintings, imbued with childlike innocence and a dreamy atmosphere, depict scenes of intricate beauty, with clear references to the art of the Tudor and Renaissance periods, elements that blend with contemporary cultural references.

Ivan Grubanov at Ipercubo

For the last fifteen years, Ivan Grubanov’s oeuvre has investigated the conventional notions of the ‘nation-state’ and the power linked to it, what it means to belong to a certain nation-state, and nationalism. Working very much within the conceptual tradition of painting inaugurated by artists like Jasper Johns and Frank Stella, for Grubanov, who represented Serbia at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015, there is no difference between spreading out an ensemble of flags on the floor, painting on polycarbonate riot shields, embroidering text and applying paint to it, as in his “motto” series, or composing a polyptych with different painterly elements ‘boxed’ into wooden frames, as his recent works “Unnation.” Titled “Skin Nation Class,” Grubanov’s newest series of works gives the title his first solo exhibition in Italy. The exhibition features an installation made of six polyptychs. Each of the six square pieces has a black mirror in the center, a stretched canvas, and a stained flag of Yugoslavia, the birthplace of the artist, that was used to paint the canvas. As the artist states in a note to the press: “the flag remains altered in the process but its national/ideological connotation cannot be removed, it is forensically traceable and even more violent as we witness its ability to adapt its color but never abandon its signifying role.”

Alice Ronchi’s newest series of works, titled “True Care,” is the center of her latest solo show at the Francesca Minini gallery in Milan. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Alice Ronchi at Francesca Minini

Italian artist Alice Ronchi presents the new series of paintings in her third solo show with the Francesca Minini gallery, titled “True Care,” and her latest pink marble sculpture “Talismano.” The works welcome the visitor, embracing and accompanying him to discover a dreamlike and poetic world. The magical landscape created by the artist is a personal place made of childhood dreams and memories, a world that belongs to her and, at the same time, to all of us. The search for wonder is recurring in Alice Ronchi’s work, often populated by familiar yet enigmatic figures. As in a dreamlike dimension, in her new series of works, which stands out for their organic round shapes alongside pastel colors, the artist explores the ideas of tenderness and lightness, and the works become an oneiric abstract representation of memories, intimate feelings and desire of care.

Sonia Kacem at Galerie Gregor Staiger

“3 pieghe, 4 archi e 1 rettangolo” follows Kacem’s recent stay at Fonderia Artistica Battaglia, the famed metal casting foundry established in Milan in 1913, where the artist created three new sculptural works in bronze. The exhibition features a new body of sculptural and wall-based works, conceived in particular with the consideration of the gallery’s location in Milan. Responding directly to the gallery’s architecture, Kacem adapted five coloured patterns from her watercolor sketchbooks into unique wallpapers bearing loose geometric shapes and natural forms. With her presentation in Milan, Kacem eloquently translates her lexicon of references and aesthetics into materials and forms new to her practice while adhering to an ongoing exploration of sculpture as a medium.

Gianmaria Biancuzzi is executive editor of Milano Art Guide.