Saturday, April 29, 2006

Adrian Tranquilli

Adrian Tranquilli is a young artist currently residing in Rome who is producing interesting sculptures with superhero subjects and themes. In December of 2005 the Mimmo Scognamiglio Arte Contemporanea in Naples mounted an exhibit of Tranquilli's work titled "The Age of Chance."

Cathryn Drake has a review of the show in the May 2006 issue of Artforum magazine. (Unfortunately, it's not [yet] available online.)

Here's an extended excerpt:
For some time, Adrian Tranquilli has been portraying superheroes as poignantly human. In this show ... a pure white Superman--the original superhero--bursts robustly out of the wall with stigmata of gold bleeding from between his ribs (This is Not a Love Song 1, all works 2006), a phantom of spiritual purity. Spiderman's form half emerged out of another wall (This is Not a Love Song 2), regarding the upturned palm of his hand, from which a stream of white gold spilled into drops on the floor. And isn't Christ himself a sort of superhero? In an earlier work, Tranquilli confounded the Savior's identity with that of Batman: his sculpture Batman: The Dark Knight, Vatican City, 1998, depicts a crucified Jesus with the Batman symbol emblazoned across his chest. ...

The religious analogy is simplistic yet fundamental, carrying with it implications of our need to reflect our own identity in our icons as well as to seek guidance from a savior. Hero myths date back to the beginning of civilization, but the superhero genre emerged in tandem with American modernism, springing from our collective need to create order out of the chaos of world wars and revolutionary social changes. Superheroes highlight the difference between good and evil, comforting us through identification with their extraordinary powers and ability to overcome their nemeses. Sacrificing their personal lives to save the world, they must keep their identities secret. ...

What would happen if everybody were a superhero? As the identities of our icons become closer to our own, we might have to become our own saviors. ... Indeed, by literally merging the identities of pop and religious icons--and bringing them down to earth--Tranquilli's precious sculptural objects seem to be drained of their power, passion, and significance. Like a child who refuses to take off his superhero costume long after Halloween, Tranquilli may have finally taken the concept to the point of banality.

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