Exhibition view. Photo Paolo Sfriso Courtesy Fondazione Prada
6 Jun – 4 Oct 2009

Fondazione Prada organizes a retrospective exhibition of the American artist John Wesley (Los Angeles, 1928), considered one of the most interesting and enigmatic figures on the contemporary American art scene. Featured in the spaces of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice and curated by Germano Celant, the exhibition documents the artist’s production from 1961 to 2007 presenting over 150 different works comprising paintings and objects borrowed from international museums and private collections.

Pop Art and Minimalism, with their respective appeal to everyday banality and repetitions of grids and patterns, became the two poles that interacted in Wesley’s work, forming an unexpected combination, a blend of the inductive and the surreal. Wesley’s artistic language is close on the one hand to Surrealist iconography and characterized, on the other, by an application of dark, cold colors that stand in clear opposition to the material gestuality of Abstract Expressionism.

A thorough investigation of Wesley’s complex language, the exhibition takes a historical approach. It reconstructs the artist’s career from the early 1960s up until recent years, attesting Wesley’s imaginative freedom in creating profoundly experimental and innovative artworks.

Starting from the 1990s, Wesley introduces in his flat painting surfaces the pink, enlarging the usual limited palette of colors (blue, white and grey). The use of pink in female nude becomes a predominant feature of Wesley’s language: fleshy, velvety and luminous, the color is always a metaphor for a pleasure and sensual enjoyment that never enters the realm of the tragic or extreme passion, but prefers rather to hover in the interval between sexuality and decoration. Wesley offers the viewer the possibility of becoming an accomplice and voyeur of his investigation of concealed desire. The subject is always the battle between conscious and unconscious.

Venue of the exhibition: Fondazione Giorgio Cini, San Giorgio Maggiore Island, Venice

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