text by Mike Watson
Galleria SIX is pleased to present “KANGAL”, a solo exhibition by Marco Bongiorni (Milan, 1981).
Kangal is the cynophilic name given to a large-sized Molosser dog with hazel, beige or white fur, originating from the homonymous city in the Sivas region of Western Anatolia. It is also known by Karabash (black snout), due to the characteristic dark shade always present on its snout. Kangals are categorized as Sheepdogs or Guardian Dogs that for centuries have been affiliated with shepherds and breeders to protect their herds from predators and theft; ancient, strong and determined these animals are well balanced, intelligent and have easily adapted to extreme conditions that challenged their toughness and temperament.
Constantly under pressure from both the wilderness and their masters, shepherd dogs act and live between the strong instances of these two worlds; they are living and autonomous filters given the task of regulating all of the conflicts and the burden of passing their genetic and cultural heritage to subsequent generations.
Marco Bongiorni presents a pictorial research, carried out over the last 3 years, showcasing a way of painting that revolves around the concept of visual filtering.
Inside a series of self-produced viewers, made with the help of magnifying lenses, optical insulators, mirrors, diver's masks, glasses and VR viewers, become part of the pictorial process, apparently hindering it.
These makeshift masks not only alter visual perception, but become coercive acts with the task of conditioning the visual range, definition and the eye’s motion, while at the same time generating responses, resistance and unexpected cognitive aftermaths.
Like the Wolf-Collar (introduced for the first time in Anatolia by Turkish Shepherds) or The Dangle Stick (with which Romanian shepherds dress up dogs to inhibit their predatory instincts), Bongiorni's optical devices become a tool to measure the forces to which the pictorial work is subjected during its genesis and beyond.
In the dog canvases, the relationship with the photographic references becomes counter-intuitive.
Starting from small and low resolution poor prints, the subjects are studied with the help of optical insulators, deforming glass slides and blurred telescopes that sabotage the pictorial process itself.
The brushstroke becomes wild under the blindness of the hand, the drawing gets stray and figuration advances warily, but fiercely determined not to be tamed completely.
The SLPFL series, however, challenges the relationship of the subject becoming a direct reference to real life painting itself, such as the presence of dried out hydrangeas, miserable rags or worn and moldy lemons. There are 9 small oil painted still life works, each of which rests on a glass frame that encloses the picture of a contemporary dictator. Still Life and President for Life meet in a diptych whose function is similar to a cognitive short-circuit through which it is possible to challenge the dominant system.
The masks and the viewers become an instrument of analytical study, but above all of proactive resistance; a way to anticipate the inexorability of time in the useless hope of stopping it.
The Kangal exhibition is a place to rethink the process of the birth of Painting, an attempt to exhort its rebellious and indomitable character. A character that belongs to it, due to its very nature. The filtered view through the impediments becomes an act of subversion against the dictatorship of the image. It becomes awareness and a declaration of autonomy; an attempt to overcome hierarchical divisions and tasks set by the dominant thinking system.
Galleria SIX - Piazzale Piola 5 Milano – December 16 2017 / January 25 2018