MERLIN JAMES, INSTALLATION VIEW, 2020, P420
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P420, Bologna. Unknown artists from the Sixties and Seventies are introspected

Two engineers switch to the arts, uprooting contemporary works to display five exhibitions every year at the gallery of P420, Bologna

The gallery is located within walking distance from two cultural hubs in the capital of Emilia-Romagna: the city’s Museum of Modern Art (MAMbo), and the Cineteca di Bologna, a name in film restoration. Inaugurated in January 2010, P420 centers its offer around conceptual and minimal art from the 1960s and 1970s. The directors and founders of the gallery are Fabrizio Padovani and Alessandro Pasotti, two engineers who decided to venture into the art sector and open a private gallery. Graduates from the University of Bologna, their passion for contemporary art stemmed from visiting exhibitions during their student years and collecting art. Every year, the gallery organizes around five exhibitions. We spoke with gallery director, Fabrizio Padovani, on P420’s growth over the past decade, its representation process and future plans.

Fabrizio Padovani: When we opened the gallery in 2010, we were interested in rediscovering historicized figures, artists who were active in the Sixties and Seventies, not known or valued by curators and collectors, having no presence in the art world. Among these figures we have presented Paolo Icaro, Franco Vaccari and Richard Nonas to name a few. Our program was lacking in figures from our generation onward. Due to curators Davide Ferri, Antonio Grulli and Chris Sharp, who introduced us to names, we began to collaborate with the artists we represent today.

Glesni Williams: There is a thought process before reaching out to the artists.

FP: Our artists, regardless of age and notoriety, have demonstrated their work equally visual and conceptual. Artistic practices are ordered and meditated on. We are aware to include the presence of painting, sculpture, photography, video art and performance in our program.

GW: P420 intends to compare languages belonging to periods with the intention of bringing out the current aspects.

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Adelaide Cioni, Guy Mees. Shape, color, taste, sound and smell, 2019. Image C.Favero, P420 Bologna

FP: One of the aspects we look for in an artist is the contemporaneity of their language, even for the historicized artists. It is after a few decades have passed that, at times, the relevance of an artistic research is better understood.

GW: What challenges does P420 face in today’s climate, in regard to its role in the art world?

FP: In the era of Covid, the challenge for us is to reinvent our business, previously based on events, exhibitions and art fairs, in a world where this no longer exists and we do not know for how long. Contemporary art, and art in general, is a world that cannot live online, therefore this has incited the need for reflection and revision of our working methods. We have understood in recent months that the answer is to live ‘onlife’ – and I borrow this expression from Luciano Floridi – the question is, how?

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Merlin James, installation view, 2020, P420

We will continue our gallery program with a series of planned exhibitions, in the face of an unprecedented year we need interpretations. In December 2020, we will inaugurate our Project Room, a space dedicated to a parallel program of emerging artists. The first exhibition will be by Shafei Xia, a Chinese artist, who has graduated from the Bologna Academy of Fine Arts. She will exhibit eight works in total poised between reality and the virtual.

The artists represented by P420 include the names – Irma Blank, Germany, 1976, John Coplans, USA, 1920-2003, Laura Grisi Italy, 1939-2017 and Goran Trbuljak, Croatia, 1948. Local creatives from Bologna, Adelaide Cioni, 1976 and Piero Manai, 1951-1988 have been invited to display their work in the gallery. From 2013 onward, P420 started to collaborate with independent curators, including Simone Menegoi, Davide Ferri and Cecilia Canziani – the latter being co-curator for an upcoming group show titled Io dico io – I say I at La Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Rome. The exhibition, running from September to December 2020, splits the gallery space in half, the front room dedicated to Welsh-born painter Merlin James, UK, 1960 and the remainder dedicated to the works of Marie Cool, France, 1961 and Fabio Balducci, Italy, 1964. P420 decided to keep them separate to represent two mediums in visual dimension and theory: painting and performative action. Regarding James’ painting style and use of materials, Ferri notes that «his canvases give the idea of having irregularities in the frame, surfaces steeped in materials and sand and hair that have accumulated on top of them». The second solo show, with art works by Cool and Balducci, demonstrate the actions exhibited are linked to the dimension of work, the idea of the office as a closed space, a cage. The room hosts two television screens, wooden desks, a strip of sellotape and the projection of light in the form of a window.

IMAGE GALLERY

P420
Fabrizio Padovani and Alessandro Pasotti
Via Azzo Gardino, 9
Bologna

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