The American artist presents eighteen works, eleven of which were created especially for the Roman exhibition, displayed in the various rooms of the Casino dei Principi.
The first exhibition in Italy by Ferrari Sheppard (Chicago 1983), currently considered one of the most interesting American artists of recent generations.
In the halls of the Casino dei Principi, the artist presents eighteen works, eleven of which were created especially for the Roman exhibition at Villa Torlonia, as well as the video Be in My Mind, set up in the dining room of the building, decorated with tempera murals depicting views of the Gulf of Naples, on public display for the first time.
Ferrari Sheppard's paintings describe the American way of life in the third millennium. The artist places strongly characterised characters in domestic and everyday atmospheres, with a neo-expressionist and chromatically lively style, not so distant, in its essentiality, from the iconographies proposed, during the Ventennio, by the masters of the Roman School, well represented in the nearby Casino Nobile Museum, with which Sheppard ideally compares himself. The historical atmosphere of the post World War II period also returns in a series of paintings inspired by the climate of freedom experienced in Italy, but not only, in the days immediately following the liberation, when music was played in the
following the liberation, when jazz music was used by American soldiers as a weapon against the regime.
But history is only a pretext, a food for thought, a suggestion: "I consider my paintings as timeless, deeply emotional images, like perfumes," Sheppard says in an interview.
A distinctive element of his works is also the presence of gold leaf, which symbolically links the artist with Byzantine and medieval European art, cultures and expressions that represent a great source of inspiration for Sheppard. However, the artist integrates gold with acrylics and charcoal, thus diminishing its value: "Despite its high cost, gold is no more special than the other materials I use, there is no hierarchy. Each technique brings a special quality".
The title of the exhibition, Crucible, indicates the ability of this painting to include suggestions from different sources, from medieval art to American graffiti art. Sheppard's work originates from the troubled life the artist experienced during his adolescence. "I grew up in the slums of Chicago, my brother dealt drugs, and almost every day we were threatened with firearms. Those were dark times, and I had to build an armour for myself through art in order to survive," he recounts in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times.
"This painting, traversed by vital and dynamic energies, celebrates the humanity of the black people," adds the curator, "encountered by the artist over the course of his life, between Chicago, Los Angeles and various cities in Africa where he lived. These paintings are deeply influenced by his memories and experience in the world of music that evoke a sense of nostalgia but also of dynamism typical of the Los Angeles urban scene".
The exhibition is supported by a pocket-size booklet, distributed free of charge to visitors, with a text by the curator, an interview with the artist and images of the works displayed in the rooms of the Casino dei Principi.
Ferrari Elite Sheppard (born 3 March 1983 in Chicago) lives and works in Los Angeles. He is an African-American contemporary visual artist, known for his vibrant, hybrid paintings that blend figurativism and abstract art. Besides being a painter, Sheppard is a writer, photographer and record producer.
After studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, he exhibited at the Los Angeles Museum of Art and in several galleries in the US and Europe.
All images: Photo by Ruben Diaz - Courtesy MASSIMODECARLO
From 27 October 2023 to 7 January 2024
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