Merlin James / Marie Cool Fabio Balducci

P420, Bologna / Italy

September 25–November 7, 2020
October 22, 2020
Via Azzo Gardino 9
40122 Bologna

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Galleria P420 is pleased to present two parallel solo exhibitions, by the painter Merlin James (Cardiff, 1960) and by Marie Cool Fabio Balducci (Valenciennes, 1961 and Ostra, 1964). These two independent shows mark the beginning of collaboration between P420 and these artists. 

Installed in the first room of the gallery, the exhibition by Merlin James, Welsh by birth and residing in Scotland, presents a dozen paintings from various stages in his career, offering a glimpse—as Davide Ferri points out in an essay written for the show—of something like series, open, not conclusive, constantly in progress, that are reconfigured and reciprocally revisited, also by means of contrasts and apparent differences. In his works, references to genre painting and erudite citations can meet and overlap, in simple, abandoned figuration, where the contradictions of more ambiguous marks and signs can be incorporated in the image, or escape from it, complicating and opening up the interpretation.

His canvases seem to be coming to grips with something crooked: slightly irregular stretchers, cuts, holes, wounds, stitching, grafts of various materials, chance. But freedom, in art, does not imply doing what you want—to quote Luca Bertolo and Sofia Silva in an essay on Merlin James from 2017—but discovering that you want exactly what you have done. To make, without knowing precisely what, to take the plunge and then to choose, layer after layer, choice after choice, chance after chance.

In the second room of the gallery, and actually already in the area of the offices, we encounter the works of Marie Cool Fabio Balducci. Marie hails from the north of France and contemporary dance, while Fabio is from the province of Ancona, visual arts and cinema. The two began working together in 1995, developing a body of work that is hard to define or to insert in the classic categories of art.

Composed of actions they do not call performances, objects they do not call sculptures, and works on paper they do not call drawings, the works of Marie Cool Fabio Balducci almost always make use of objects resulting from the bankruptcy of companies, or from layoffs of workers (tables, managerial desks, pencils sold off to the highest bidder, copy machines, etc.), deployed in a series of actions usually carried out by Marie herself. The objects, now removed from the production cycle, liquidated, put aside, reminders of a productivity that once existed, are reactivated by simple, slow, iconic actions that trigger complex political, social and economic reflections of great timeliness.