What is the name of this town, please?
Back from his personal exhibition in the United States, the Italian artist Walter Bortolossi returns to the Egbert Baqué Contemporary Art Gallery, where he made his Berlin debut three years ago. The title of his new one-man show, which features his most recent works, What is the name of this town, please? alludes to the difficulty of attributing a specific identity to our towns and cities post-globalization, identity being transcended by the effects of de-localized global communications and trends unleashed by the global economy. The paintings frequently take up the city theme, which is represented by distorted and fragmented cityscapes, where numerous figures struggle against each other in a battle for prominence.
The concept of a communal space seems to be contradicted by the impossibility of identifying the places where the scenes are set, which feature phenomena and characters from distinctly diverse origins. Even the closed spaces of the rooms in the interior scenes are barely distinguishable from the exterior backgrounds depicted beyond the windows. In one of the paintings, Immanuel Kant, the philosopher of universal reason is symbolically depicted in conversation with Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the virtual community Facebook.
The facts of current affairs and history pervade these paintings, merging together with scenes created from a variety of modified pictorial solutions. From this one might conclude that the subject of these works is the events of world history – what happened in the past and what is happening currently – and yet, is it not rather more a question of taking events and figures from history and reproducing them in a parallel dimension where possibilities are still open?
Perhaps these depictions are no more than a fanciful mental experiment: a kind of formulation of hypotheses about improbable scenarios, or perhaps, just maybe, they are about something more serious and concrete, especially if we consider that everything depicted in these paintings, no matter how distorted, how modified, is still recognizeable and inticately detailed.
The book Walter Bortolossi – All that happened had to happen, with an essay by Darius Spieth, published jointly by LSU School of Art and LSU Press, is available on www.amazon.com