Gallery: Pékin Fine Arts
Artist(s): Phénix Varbanov
Opening / Event Date: 28 Jul, 2023
Closing / End Date: 30 Sep, 2023
Soluna Fine Art is proud to present Soglia, the first solo exhibition of Italian contemporary painter Raffaele Cioffi with the gallery. The exhibition will feature new oil painting works completed in 2023 from the artist’s signature oeuvre, ‘Soglia’, which he has been developing for over half a decade. Soglia, meaning threshold, represents the visual spaces that Cioffi has been exploring on his canvas by softening and scattering the colors that generate depths and paths, inviting viewers to inwardly step forward into the entrances. His technique may be seen as a symbolic act of liberating the colors from lines to light (returning them to what they are: atoms in the air, flowing and free) that moves and expands through his series like activated monitor screens. This way, Cioffi’s works collectively recreate reality in a surrealistic way, allowing the viewers to reinterpret the world.
Furthermore, we would like to thank the Italian Cultural Institute in Hong Kong and the Consulate General of Italy in Hong Kong for being our supporter partners of this exhibition. Soglia will be on view from 15 September to 21 October 2023, with an opening reception on 15 September (Fri) at 5 – 8pm.
Please confirm your attendance here by clicking on the RSVP button.
ARS GRATIA ARTIS; ART FOR ART’S SAKE
In an era characterized by hyper-efficiency and productivity, even art is aimed at capturing viewers’ immediate attention with visually striking images. It may seem strange for artists to invite their audience to slow down and engage in intellectual contemplation. Yet, unusual as it may seem, such artists do exist, and almost all of them practice forms of abstraction, ranging from hermetic conceptualism to the more traditional style of pictorial abstractionism that emerged during the first seventy years of the twentieth century. Above all, Raffaele Cioffi belongs to the latter.
To dispel any confusion, it is paramount to clarify that abstraction is fundamentally a state of mind. This existential condition has historically found its visual expression in abstractionism rather than the other way around. This human condition is not tied to any specific historical moment, just as its visual manifestation, composed of formless shapes and colors devoid of subject or object, is not solely the language through which it communicates. Today, in the current artistic landscape, where almost all linguistic boundaries have dissolved and “everything can work” in its world, abstraction as a visual language transcends any specific period or any divisive meanings associated with avant-garde movements. It operates as a pure linguistic code, uncontaminated by the influence of other languages or narratives, just like mathematics. “Ars gratia artis” – “art for art’s sake” – as said by the ancient Romans (and the iconic round frame from which the lion of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer roars), encapsulates the essence of abstractionism.
That said, while the fundamental elements of abstraction have been identified and used, those who use this code, like Cioffi, must work on the concept of “variation” concerning the great innovations and discoveries of the last century. Despite the seemingly limited scope that the term may suggest, the idea of abstraction remains a vast terrain for exploration, in which what is missing are the extreme highs or lows–the “peaks” or the “abyss”. To approach this “abstract” concept concretely, one shall envision a gently undulating landscape comprised solely of hills, resembling the rolling hills of Tuscany, or (since Cioffi is being presented in Asia for the first time), consider the typical landscape depicted in traditional Chinese paintings and porcelain–repleting with mountains, waterfalls flowing into tranquil lakes, boats, and often a solitary scholar on the shore. While the subject matter remains constant, it is the very detail–an added proportion or a skillful nuance–that differentiates each corner, resulting in a unique visual language. Indeed, such landscapes, be it real or painted, never fail to captivate. Thus, abstraction in painting never loses its appeal for two primary reasons. First, those who possess the sensibility to “hear” the language are not deterred by the idea that previous explorers have already left their marks in the territory. Second, the possible variations on the same theme, or rather, the same language, constitute a practically inexhaustible well of creative possibilities.
Thus Cioffi fits into the flow of that noble river of abstraction. Despite sharing a known historical allusion with other works, constructing his own unique combination of shapes and colors ultimately results in something truly distinct and original in his work. Over the past decade, and even longer, the focus in Cioffi’s paintings has shifted, minimizing the geometric elements while emphasizing the power of color. A single color is explored in various shades and intensities, encircling geometric signs that divide the space, establishing angles or loosely rectangular forms referred to by the artist as “thresholds” or “doors”, suggesting an opening, a visual passage from one state to another. This visual threshold forms a gap in our perception, a chromatic void that appears as an outlet as we attempt to reconcile the unfamiliar—Cioffi’s abstract visual system—with the familiar—a “door” known in our physical reality. However, the essence of Cioffi’s work extends beyond this mere representation of a doorway. It embodies a purer form of artistic expression where language itself serves as both the means and the end. It is a language that contemplates its own codes, a metalanguage of vision reflecting upon itself.
In Cioffi’s atelier, the strength of color and the ability of geometry to influence its power are discussed, as well as how the chromatic aspect, down to the tiniest brushstroke, possesses the remarkable capacity to soften the rigidity of form. This new pictorial world is free from the mundane aspects of everyday life but enters our daily reality through its pure language, which is both the means and end of the artist’s work.
About Raffaele Cioffi
Raffaele Cioffi (b. 1971 in Desio, Italy) graduated from the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan following the courses of Luciano Fabro, a renowned conceptual sculpture artist. He continued to re-orient his visual research and language after becoming acquainted with painters like Claudio Olivieri and Marcio Raciti, both belonging to the ‘Pittura Pittura’ movement. By purifying the colors into the autonomous entity, Cioffi creates luminescent and ethereal chromatic bodies of light that give fluidity to shapes across the canvas. As a result of this painterly life-like force, the viewers may have tactile and metaphysical experiences when looking at his paintings. Since the nineties, Cioffi has exhibited in private galleries and public institutions in Italy and overseas, including the Museum of Modern Art of Gavirate, Venice Biennale, Villa Clerici-Museo d’Arte Sacra in Milan, Civic Museum of Alessandria, Sala dei Convegni of the museum, Museo d’ Arte Contemporanea, Palazzo Ducale in Mantua, and more.
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About Soluna Fine Art
Soluna Fine Art is a gallery specializing in Asian fine art and objects with deep roots in South Korea. Our mission is to revitalize interest in Eastern aesthetics and philosophy by showcasing established and emerging artists and works of traditional value with contemporary interpretation. Works by artists represented by Soluna Fine Art can be found in private collections and institutions around the world. As well as exhibitions, our annual programme includes fairs, educational initiatives and multi-disciplinary collaborations on an international level.
Soluna Fine Art
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