Sun, Dec 19, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Marotta is masterof fantastic plastics

By Diana Freundl  /  STAFF REPORTER

Monterosa.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TAIPEI MOMA

Italian Artist Gino Marotta is regarded by many critics as one of the best representatives of Italian pop art. Now almost 70, he continues to experiment with different mediums as a means of artistic and philosophical expression.

Having traveled to India, Pakistan and Korea, Marotta's latest exhibition The Color of Light is ending its Asian tour in Taiwan.

The exhibition's collection of methacrylates (metal and acrylic works) are skillfully carved with creative scenes that are rich in color. The images, which are based on the natural world, have been carved out of plastic, mounted onto a transparent piece of acrylic and then hung like three-dimensional paintings.

The simple, yet vibrant images resemble children's stencils.When looking at these works, it is easy to miss the complex emotions and message said to be conveyed, and merely enjoy them for the way they are presented.

According to art critic Maurizio Vitta, the line of light and color that defines the animal and plant shapes used in Marotta's paintings also acts as a gateway to the most significant part of his work: the empty space that separates it from the transparent plastic surface it is mounted on.

"His continual wander from concrete objects [the shape] to its transparent double [part that it's mounted on] results in an illuminating destabilization: the truth of the world is presented as a dilemma between two equally convincing options, but it has to follow the narrow way that can be imagined between them," Vittain says in a review of the artist's exhibition.

After viewing the exhibition, it's possible to see how Vitta makes the connection between the cut-out shape and solid plastic as a representation of two opposing ideologies and the space between as a middle path, yet his philosophical analysis of this particular exhibit seems slightly exaggerated.

Marotta's use of plastic as a medium to make pop art representative of the late 20th century, however, is absorbing in its own right. Italian pop art may have found its origins in the 1960s but these 12 works illustrate Marotta's consistent command of the movement.

His use of plastic, a ubiquitous industrial material that is often thought of as being either cheap, tacky or both, transforms his art into a way of looking at the world with a skeptical eye.

The landscapes made from florescent plastic are like reflections on the superficially created environments around us.

Equally appealing is Marotta's use of religious iconography, which is not restricted to one religion. The crescent moon and camel images, which might have more effect in Muslim regions, suggest that the artist wishes to transcend the religious majorities of his own culture to appeal to those in another and to imply perhaps that the artificial beautification of society is a global phenomenon.

It may also hint at the plasticization and commercialization of religion in contemporary society.

Exhibition notes:

What: The Color of Light

Where: Taipei MOMA Gallery (畫廊) at 3F, 19, Ln 252, Dunhua S Rd. Sec 1, Taipei (台北市大安區敦化南路125193). Telephone: (02) 8771 3372

When: Until Jan. 15

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