Jonathan Baldock - Musica - on September 21 at the galleria Annarumma
Following the 'Brit Art Now' exhibition at the Charles Saatchi foundation in London featuring several of his sculptural works, Jonathan Baldock (U.K. 1980) presents some of his most recent works for his first solo exhibition in Italy. The exhibition of the artist's work, which opens on September 21 at the galleria Annarumma, comprises two important sculptures, an oil painting entitled 'Mask' and a large collage – patchwork whose title 'Musica' is the same as the one chosen by Baldock for the exhibition.
There could be no more fitting title for his Naples exhibition, given the many different references to the commedia dell'arte in Baldock's work. The British artist has made frequent forays into the extraordinary world of popular and musical theatre which not only enjoyed a great following in Italy but also in post-Elizabethan England.
The connections between the two countries and the respective cultural traditions can sometimes be completely unexpected. Pulcinella, a stock character famously associated with the Neapolitan theatrical tradition, has its English equivalent in 'Punch' and it was not uncommon for theatrical works written in England, both comedies and tragedies, to be set in Italy.
However, the choice made by our artist should not come as a surprise because music and stock characters are a recurrent theme in the history of the visual arts, from the frescoes of ancient Rome to G.B.Tiepolo, from Antoine Watteau to Gino Severini, from Picasso to James Ensor and Mimmo Paladino. Baldock finds himself in excellent company, a confident and original innovator of a consolidated artistic tradition. Despite remaining faithful to his sources, the artist breaks free from them because his works are not just simple reworkings of previously known icons. Instead, he creates new figures, new and surreal hybrids such as 'The Musician' where a string instrument becomes a sort of unprecedented four-sided Janus.
The way in which Jonathan Baldock adds the finishing touches to his sculptures is equally interesting. He almost seems to want to apply make-up to them and/or cover them with a new skin, capable of transforming them into 'born actors', sometimes coloured like a harlequin or sometimes more austere, but always ready to face the verdict of the public 'in full regalia'.