Nativo, featuring the art, words and voice of Italian physical world artist Stefano Mingione, and which has been open for that last month at DaphneArts, is the latest in a series of installations presenting a broad canvas of artistic expression which can combine multiple approaches into a single installation / expression of ideas which are intended to be viewed as a whole, rather than just as individual elements, be they drawing, sculptures or poems.
An artist working in a range of media – drawings, paintings, sculptures, digital media, written word – Mingione tends to identify himself more thematically, through his focus on the dualities present in life. Birth and death, happiness and despair, hope and fear, youth and age; and this is very much in evident in Nativo.
The exhibition space is split into two parts – although together they form a whole. The main exhibition area, where visitors first arrive, forms a cylindrical hall in which eleven draws are displayed. Some appear to have religious connotations, offered through titles such as Santissima Trinità (Holy Trinity) or La Caduta dell’Angelo (The Fall of An Angel), or through their subject matter – as with Padre Perché Io Disegno (Father Because I Draw).
However, religious overtones – entirely in keeping with the idea of duality in life, expressing both the earthly and spiritual – are only part of what these images have to offer. Collectively, they provide an expression of thinking about left, death and all that lies between in a manner – to my eye at least – not that far removed from the art of Hieronymus Bosch, another artist who pondered (agonised over?) dualities through his work (and even through his patronage).
A single walkway extends back from this cylindrical room. It offers a way to where a grand sculpture of an old man, curled foetal-like, hangs in the air. It is a further embodiment of the theme of duality: the aged man appearing foetus-like in the darkness. Positioned before the sculpture is a chair and “play” symbol. Visitors are encouraged to sit in former and click on the latter – which will allow them to hear three of Mingione’s poems – Amico, Nativo and Vecchio – narrated by the artist himself in Italian, and presented with both text subtitles and a series of sculptures representing each one. These are very much the heart of the exhibit, richly evocative, and deserve special consideration which may require each to be listened to and watch more than once.
Interpretation of Nativo is deeply subjective. I found it by turns fascinating and also a little pretentious – and ultimately captivating.
DaphneArts (Isle of Seduction, rated: Adult)