From 28 May to 25 June 2023, Fondazione Stelline presents Plastiche Apparenze . From Plumcake to Gianni Cella, an exhibition that proposes Gianni Cella 's journey from collective to individual experience.
The exhibition, curated by Alberto Fiz, offers over 20 works including paintings, sculptures and installations created between 1983 and 2023.
" Plastic appearances allows you to re-read in a completely original way the work of an artist who developed his own poetic research first in a group and then individually, affirming his otherness with respect to the art system", underlines Fiz. «His images, deviant and elusive, absorb the discomfort of the author which often coincides with that of the observer».
The exhibition, hosted in the spaces of the Stelline Foundation in Gallery II on the underground floor, represents an opportunity to celebrate the 40 years of activity of Gianni Cella, one of the founders - together with Romolo Pallotta and Claudio Ragni - of the historic collective Plumcake , which began its exhibition activity in 1983 with works made in fiberglass inspired by the world of comics and mass communication, reinterpreting pop styles in a playful key. The name chosen was deliberately provocative and was inspired by a popular food with a soft and sugary shape. A paradoxical choice that of the Plumcakes, who have been able to synthesize cultured and popular art, design and craftsmanship.
The collective made its debut in 1983 with an exhibition at the Galleria Diagramma in Milan, the space managed by Luciano Inga-Pin. Since 1984, together with Abate, Bonfiglio, Innocente, Lodola, Palmieri, Postal, they create the Nuovo Futurismo group, theorized by Renato Barilli. In 1990 they took part in the Open section of the Venice Biennale, again curated by Barilli.
Plastiche Apparenze is introduced by a series of historic works from the Plumcake period, including Razzo (1983), which synthesizes abstraction and figuration, giving life to a mysterious form with a stylized character who seems to be sleeping on a cloud. Of particular interest is The mountain of lizards (1985), a sort of sacred place inhabited by small reptiles that spread in the environment with references to primitive cultures and archeology. In the same context, Natura maligna (1988) also appears, a rather ambiguous heart, one of the most recognizable stylistic features of Plumcake and Apparizione modeste (1994) which anticipates the symbols of social media.
In 2000 Cella began an individual journey and, as he himself wrote in his diary Una vita lemme lemme : "I abandoned group work to feel more responsible for my creative world. I am a visionary, prolific, polymorphic and kaleidoscopic". Joy and mystery (2022) , a polyptych that depicts the salient moments of his artistic life, from his diploma in painting at the Brera Academy to the individual exhibitions of recent years, tells all of this in a figurative key.
As clearly emerges from the Stelline, since 2000 Cella's artistic career appears much more multifaceted and more complex than in the Plumcake period. The works, while maintaining a playful component, express discomfort and otherness. This is evident from Snow White and the Seven Dumbest Men in the World (2001), a cynical reflection on the fairy tale, as well as from Ex capo (2005), a sculpture with a severed head intended as a denunciation of power and Ex equo (2005), grotesque installation where a figure in glazed fiberglass with his face painted on an inflated balloon (inflated balloons are a recurring theme and the exhibition also includes a sculpture from 2018 with three superimposed inflated balloons painted according to the tricolor) plays hopscotch across the silhouette of a corpse on the ground which, in a macabre overturning, could be his. The crime was used in an exhibition featuring Lombroso's Orologio (2011), with the hours replaced by very unsavory figures, and two installations in progress with over 30 elements entitled Caos primigenio (2018-2023). They are a series of monochromatic yellow and red hybridizations where everything, from little stars to drops of water, is anthropomorphized and at the same time deformed. Thus, applying smileys and emojis here and there takes on a rather creepy and much less playful aspect than it might seem at first glance.
Next to a group of sculptures – among which there is Clessidra familiar (2011), which can be tilted according to whether you prefer to let the girl or the boy prevail – appears Lo Spirito del lago , another variegated installation from 2016 where the lake constellation includes monsters and monsters, but also small images of Adam and Eve, the unlikely Pollock Brothers or a Vincent covered in water with a clear reference to the great Dutch painter. Van Gogh himself is present in the exhibition as part of the rebus dedicated to him (2023) in which the pears, preceded by an "o", identify the "works" creating a highly effective figural aphorism based on a mechanism that is found in another rebus, The Princess and the Pea (2017).
The exhibition concludes with a space entirely dedicated to ex votos with a series of small votive paintings (2020) which, flanked by weeping hearts in fiberglass, take up the tradition of popular painting in a contemporary key. At the center of the ex-votos, the presence of Harvey stands out, the sculpture of the imaginary friend, a bit rabbit and a bit alien, who accompanies the miraculously cured who have received pardon.
The review also includes a spectacular installation by Cella in the garden of the Magnolia Cloister entitled Totem , with four monumental plastic works over two meters long that symbolize the chameleon-like aspects of the contemporary world, inspired by an ancient ritual. Among the totems there is not even a homage to the famous Marx Brothers to whom the artist has often been inspired by recovering the cynical and bewildered aspect of their humour.