Interview with FRANCESCO CLIVIO by Irene Biolchini

Open by appointment every day as soon as it is possible, according to new provisions and DPCM, the exhibition, Each painter paints himself, in progress until December 31, in the spaces of the Milan headquarters of Galleria Clivio, bears the signature of the three artists involved, Alessandro Algardi, Pietro Coletta, Antonio Violetta, to whom the gallerist has left a free field in the design and installation.The theme? The self-portrait in the broad sense but beyond the contents we wanted to deepen, with an interview with Francesco Clivio, the reasons for this operation that, through a failure to intervene during the making of, puts the gallery owner on the same level as the unsuspecting audience sent to see an exhibition promoted deliberately without press materials…

It seems to me that this exhibition is a response to the current situation, as well as proposing a new relationship between the gallery and the artists.
Let’s start from a fundamental premise: this exhibition was born by the artists. In the sense that at the time of the first lockdown I felt daily with the artists of the gallery and all this exhibition is the result of their ideas. I just gladly provided the gallery space because a crisis can be a precious opportunity to bring out a new creativity.When I say that I left the gallery I mean that I really wanted to leave them carte blanche: the artists decided the theme and chose the works. I physically handed them the keys to the gallery and after a week of work I entered the space and I was the first visitor of an exhibition for which I knew absolutely nothing.

How was the feeling in the lobby?
To be honest, I had high expectations because I knew I was dealing with artists who always have their own strength. So I wasn’t expecting a commercial or predictable exhibition. And in fact, I was amazed. They managed to do a museum project. Each is represented substantially by a work, but each of these is a confirmation of the path of the artist who presents it. Algardi, famous for its manuscripts, brought here a sculpture of two and a half meters that is certainly a novelty, but allows you to understand much of its path.

You mentioned the work of Algardi, something new in its production. Have all the works on display been produced for this occasion?
Algardi and Violetta produced two new works, while Coletta decided to bring a job that is many years old but that had never been exhibited before. The theme of the exhibition Every Painter Paints Himself was certainly the key around which all production revolved. A work on topics less known, or unpublished, precisely. All with unique characteristics, dictated by the pandemic situation even in an exhibition.

May I ask what the setting reflects, then, this time?
In times of great inaugurations, with the high turnouts of the past, a setting like this would have been absolutely unthinkable. This is because the three installations occupy the entire gallery and therefore there would be no space for the public. Instead at this time when the numbers are smaller, and the visits agreed, the relationship with the work can exist. In normal times, following the classical logic, the spaces must be usable also for large flows of public.Here, however, we have a setting that absorbs the entire space, with a reduced lighting that creates an absolutely intimate link with the work.

This private dimension, which you highlight, also allows you to create a new relationship with the collector. Is that your answer?
In fact, the constant and direct relationship with our collectors is something that has always distinguished our gallery. We have people who have followed us for many years and who also accept our proposals as suggestions and opportunities for exchange and growth. At a time when fairs are skipping, where you can show your work to many people who do not know you in a few days, it is even more necessary to work in the opposite direction: to bond over time, and over time, to people who know you very well, and for years.He thinks that this exhibition lives on the continuous exchange with both our collectors and our artists. For example: I am from Parma, if I were not to be in Milan when a visit is required are the artists to have the keys, to self-manage in space, to reveal the surprise of the exhibition to the viewer.

Speaking of surprise, you didn’t release a press release or any advance notice. How important was this secrecy in the design of the exhibition?
For us it was essential that those who entered did not know what to expect, we wanted to keep the sense of unknown and surprise. Then it is evident that after a few weeks the images start to shoot, but for us the experience (after months of digital) was fundamental. The gallery for me is the space where you get the curiosity to know and deepen and for this to happen the physical encounter must be at the base.Then it is obvious that a tunnel also has a commercial dimension, but the economic exchange cannot be detached from the human one. And so we are back to this project: three artists who, freely, relate and exchange give birth to an experience.

Does this experience also fit into the exchange with you as a gallerist?
Of course, when an artist enters the gallery he does not choose to make an exhibition. For me, talking to them does not mean just talking about the event-show, but discussing a path, a way of seeing life and creation in a broader sense. A gallery that chooses to be just a market may not be in tune with the reality of this moment.

Ogni dipintore dipinge sé
Alessandro Algardi, Pietro Coletta, Antonio Violetta

Fino al 31 dicembre 2020

Galleria Clivio
Foro Buonaparte 48, Milano

Info: +39 338 547 94 33  |  +39 02 36 57 360


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