20 Feb 2018 – 12 May 2018
During the summer of 2017, over several climbs to the top of Stromboli, at 900 metres of altitude, Celia Hempton painted the volcano’s active craters, working with canvases laid out on the ground.
As a consequence, small debris from the surroundings such as volcanic ash adhered to the surface of some paintings, blending with the oil paint. Following the artist’s point of view, the horizon line in these works is kept high, so that the majority of the visual space is occupied by the contrast between the threatening mass of dark rocks and the blazing gushes of lava constantly erupting from underground. Only the chromatic effects in thin strips of sky left at the top of some works suggest that the views were painted at dusk, when the eruptions are most visible.
Celia Hempton puts the volcano paintings in direct relation with her renowned works depicting nudes and genitalia, a selection of which is also shown in the gallery, together with a painting of adult movie actor Colby Keller. In the same way the enlarged body details painted by the artist resemble landscapes, the craters and the pits originated by the volcano could be read as bodily orifices.
The exhibition features a third group of work, entitled Surveilllance paintings, whose imagery comes from an online directory of hacked security cameras. Celia Hempton has been making these works in her studio since 2016, attracted by the painterly quality of some of the found videos, often extremely fragmented and poor in quality. While working on new scenes to paint for the show, the artist deliberately chose images showing elements of landscape with little or no trace of human presence. Quiet and smooth in comparison with the volcano paintings, these works are traces of the performative events registered by CCTV cameras, affirming Celia Hempton’s ongoing interest in landscape and on-line sourced images.
As the artist has recently stated: “My engagement in painting via the internet has parallels in an interest in landscape painting. Online space can be traversed like a vast and unpredictable landscape, exposing unfiltered and extreme aspects of human nature, as well as the banal and uneventful”.
Vicolo Dei Catinari, 3