Caterina Silva:
Artissima 2019

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Artissima 2019
Turin, Italy

31 October –
3 November 2020

Caterina Silva | Present Future, booth 8

Caterina Silva’s (b. 1983, Rome, Italy) painting is an attempt at letting the space speak; eluding the straight forward production of meaning, her works are open to interpretation. Using various materials, layers of texture and techniques, such as frottage, traces of pour, folds, erasure with a washing machine, she masters controlled randomness to create topographical portraits – the canvases are body size, vertical. Silva’s floor pieces made of leftover elements demonstrate her conception of the painting as an object.

Word-less and sign-less, yet the work is not abstract, it enacts a reflection on power and powerlessness. In her performances, language resurfaces just as in the video “Diario Manifesto”, which paradoxically completes her practice, by being full of words and images. An ongoing video collage, this work reconstructs the struggles for freedom in Rome in the 1960 and 70s.

Text by Emilie Villez (Director of Kadist, Paris)


Caterina Silva explores the links between power and language from silent or pre-linguistic places, in order to elude canonical structures of the production of meaning. She uses painting to probe at the obscure spaces of the mind, those which are impossible to explain in words, but which exist and materialise into matter and then object. In the Actions works, which are made with studio debris and leftover materials, Caterina demonstrates this conception of the painting as an object. She creates open images available to the interpretation of the observer, a consequence of a process of deconstruction of her own internal superstructure carried out through the matter of painting itself and its translation into choreographic experiments and performances. The artist combines this with her interest in non-power, which she describes as trying to master randomness and to exercise the least power on the image that wants to emerge. She explores this feeling of powerlessness and discomfort, because it creates an opennesstowards her surroundings and shifts the artist’s attention from herself to a non-self.

Silva’s work demonstrates her interest in language and classification systems, the recent body of work for Artissima has come out of a long period of the artist travelling for residencies and projects, characterised by moving across geographies and her experience of contemplative isolation. The different locations have become an important site of production and have added diverse technical possibilities to her ways of working. The large-scale canvases are topographical portraits, a synthesis of the form and the content of her experiences. The works become an accumulation of thoughts, gestures, and actions, which imply performance and controlled chaos. They are compositions made using frottage, a system for letting the matter emerge from underneath the canvas, which is un-stretched on the floor. This happens either through scratching chalk over the little protrusionsof the floor or naturally through the weight of water poured on the fabric, on top of the folds of the plastic sheets underneath,whereby the canvas retains the shape of these actions. Another technique consists of putting the paintings in the washing machine or letting them sit outdoors under snow or rain for a few days. Silva often works on both sides of the canvas, sometimes choosingto exhibit only one side at times, without a specific hierarchy between front and back.

The single channel video work, entitled Diario Manifesto, was inspired by a memoir written by the artist’s mother a few months before her death. Mixing web footage, archival materials, recordings of Silva’s performances and iPhone clips together with mini-dv tapes shot between 2001 and 2008, the artist reconstructs her mother’s life and the struggle for freedom during the 60’s and 70’s in Rome, in parallel to her attempts to both survive her mother’s passing and to face the legacy of her beliefs. The work is key to accessing the works on canvas, paradoxically full of works and images, it is a contrast to the paintings which are word-less and sign-less, open to the viewer’s interpretation.

Caterina Silva b. 1983, Rome, Italy. Lives and works in London. Graduated from The Camberwell College of Art, London in 2002 and the Instituto Europeo di Design, Rome with a BA in Scenography in 2006. Recent solo exhibitions and performances include: Impressioni, Bosse & Baum, London (2018);  Amor Proprio, performance, Centrale Montemartini, Rome (2017); Münster, Galleria Valentina Bonomo, Rome (2016); Senza Sistema, Bosse & Baum, London (2016); Sacrosanctum, Oratorio di San mercurio, Palermo (2016); tbc (august) (2015), Bosse & Baum, London; Subject/Object/Abject (2015), Riccardo Crespi Gallery, Milan; The Reconfigured Painting(2015). Group exhibition and performances include: All Good, All Right, Galleria Nazionale di Cosenza, Cosenza (2019); Diari tra Diari(Diaries among diaries), Fondazione Spinola Banna, Poirino (2019); Summer exhibition, Lunetta 11, Mombarcaro (2019); Scratching the Present, Casa Testori, Novate Milanese (2018); Combat Prize, winner of painting section, Museo Giovanni Fattori, Livorno (2018); Finite/Infinite, curated by Emma Van de Merwe, Everard Read-Circa, Cape Town (2018); Tunnel, performance, Passetto del Biscione, Rome (2018); FourteenArTellaro, Tellaro  (2018); Festa Franca, studio of Adelaide Cioni and Fabio Giorgi Alberti, Cannara (2018); Deposito d’arte italiana presente, curated by Ilaria Bonacossa and Vittoria Martini, Artissima, Turin (2017); You see me like a ufo, curated by Marcelle Joseph, Ascot (2017); ssol/ap, performance, Galleria Valentina Bonomo, Rome (2017); A.P., performance, ACC, Gwangju (2016); Anthropocene, Riccardo Crespi, Milan (2016); Secret Society of Lovers, performance, Bosse & Baum, London (2016); Jolly Joker with Maria Barnas, Laboratoriumstraat, Amsterdam (2016). Recent residencies include: Arp, Cape Town (2018); NKD, Dale, Norway (2018); ACC, Gwangju, South Korea (2016); Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam (2015); Cité International des Arts, Paris (2013). In 2015 Caterina Silva was nominated for the 16th Premio Cairo.

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