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The Binary Perception of Venus

Artist: Francesco Gillia

Opens: November 4th | 6:00pm

Closes: November 22nd | 5:00pm

SBDAC’s Capital Gallery

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Around 10 years ago, Francesco Gillia displayed his installation known as Pronaos, large columnized portraits of nude human forms laid bare, visages of stark human anatomy. The idea behind Pronaos lay within its namesake, referring to the area that lies right before the main cavern of a church. The pronaos in the Pantheon, for example, is enclosed by massive grey columns which support the structure’s triangular face and allow passage between the outside world and the sacred inner sanctum. (Blankenbehler, n.d.) Arising from the Roman approach toward religion and its pantheon of gods, Pronaos acted as both an indicator of the sacred and a boundary between the religious and material domains. Humans have a sociological aversion to nudity in everyday life, something exacerbated by the deliberate restriction of sexual imagery in film and advertisement to make a profit on pornography and its ilk. (Voto, n.d.) Francesco sought to grant the viewer the perspective of a child unafflicted by the social ethos in his framing of the paintings, like a toddler who looks upon their parents and sees giants; the paintings were designed to be 6-8 feet in height in order to make the viewer feel as if they are a small child. By focusing on the torso and abdomen, the paintings became more akin to structures, their legs supporting the absent face and allowing the audience to imprint their own parental image on it; their own perception of parenthood adding a layer of connection between the two. In keeping the realism of the skin, folds, and imperfections, the paintings can also be seen as mirrors of their subjects and testaments to the acceptance of our bodily differences. Because it was fairly successful, Francesco decided to continue to add to the themes of his work, instead of taking the superficially profane and making it sacred, it would follow that he would take a sacred image and bastardize it. Birds, and more specifically their means of ascension, are used in art and religion as extensions of the divine, angels are the messengers of God in Abrahamic religions, Garuda is the mount of Vishnu in the Hindu religion and the hawk form of Horus serves as an upper god in Egyptian mythology (Cartwright, n.d.). Wings represent freedom for many, allowing animals to leave the embrace of gravity and escape to the heavens. So what better image to render profane than a symbol of divinity itself? 

The paintings are an attempt to get people to think beyond the superficial nature of art, and to understand that it is, ultimately a means to invoke ideas in people, to inspire or captivate them and that the open maw of the Venus flytrap is only colored red in order to entrap them in a cycle of distraction. Instead of conforming the human body to the sacred, the idea of the sacred becomes confined to the human form, stuck jetting out of their backs while they immortalize it within a mirror. The images that have stuck in the minds of humankind since they began to imprint on the earth are corrupted, made to resemble kaleidoscopic colorations entrapped in a false gold and silver lining, becoming false idols that draw in the audience like a spiral.

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