Time and time again, the Italian artist, who was born in 1986, has adapted botanical ornaments and decorations, hybridized them, and transformed them into paintings, sculptures, stage-like installations, performances, or into monumental murals on the facades of private and public institutions around the world. The exhibition Alien Horti Picti also has a stage-like, performative character. Together with Francesco Libetta, one of Italy’s most renowned pianists and composers, and pianist and restorer Giorgio Manni, Iacurci has developed a project, especially for the show. A 19th-century English table piano which he painted with plant motifs sits on a hand-painted abstract carpet representing a color circle. Iacurci is alluding to a Baroque tradition. Luca Giordano and Peter Paul Rubens, for example, painted keyboard instruments. Giorgio Manni and Francesco Libetta will play classical pieces associated with the concept of metamorphosis.
Iacurci’s ornamental growths can be also understood as figures of thought. In his work, he also refers to the research of the neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso, who calls for rethinking plants. Mancuso describes plants as sentient, thinking beings that play, communicate with other species, and form networks. Like Mancuso, Iacurci opposes the anthropocentric hierarchy of the Renaissance which is still widespread today. This sees stones and minerals as inanimate, plants as a lower form of life, animals as non-sentient, and sees humans at the top of the pyramid. Above the ordinary man there is still the “Homo studiosus” — the researching man
Anthropomorphism, the attribution of human characteristics to animals, plants, natural forces, and non-human things, takes a dialectical turn in Iacurci’s work: not only are plants anthropomorphized but conversely, humans are morphed into vegetal lifeforms. At the same time, Iacurci’s artistic practice sabotages the classical hierarchies between applied art, design, fine art, and folk arts. This democratic approach is reminiscent of the revolutionary, interdisciplinary spirit of the Milanese Memphis Group in the early 1980s, as is the reduction to elementary geometric forms and the search for an iconographic visual language with a high recognition value. Iacurci appropriates the art and design of Italian postmodernism, which worked with anthropomorphic forms and drew on historical periods, styles, and foreign cultures from a relatively Eurocentric perspective. But he does not do this to nostalgically evoke it, but to deconstruct it in a kind of 2.0 version, as post-postmodernism for the crisis-ridden Anthropocene.
Text: Oliver Koerner von Gustorf
Agostino Iacurci ( b. 1986) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome and lives and works in Bologna, Italy. In his practice, he employs various media including painting, murals, sculpture, drawing, and installation. Often driven by a site-specific attitude, Iacurci collects heterogeneous materials, reworking and manipulating them. He does this to generate images and visions in which he freely narrates and associates cultural history, personal memories, literary references, and vernacular tales.
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