Swinton Gallery, Madrid Spain
From the 28th of January to the 31st of March 2021
“To the Clouds” is the ﬁrst solo show of 108 at the Swinton Gallery in Madrid, Spain.
This exhibition is deeply connected to the myths and the religious side so please, to understand better the art of this peculiar artist please read the beautiful text written by Michela D’acquisto.
Some years ago, 108 stumbled by chance upon a book on Orphism – it was his ﬁrst fortuitous meeting with a religion that, as he was going to ﬁnd out shortly, holds remarkable afﬁnities with his art, his beliefs, and his idea of how an artist should be.
In 2019, 108 had another close encounter with Orphism while working on an exhibition at Palermo’s archeological museum, which hosts a famous polychrome mosaic depicting Orpheus playing the lyre among animals: inspired by the Orphic gold tablets found in graves with instructions for the deceased in the afterlife, the artist created a sound installation akin to a ritual, like most of his work.
Through his music, Orpheus charmed all living beings – and even inanimate objects – and, most importantly, was able to visit the underworld and return from it. When the Maenads ripped him to shreds, his head kept on singing, as an extraordinary testament of the everlasting power of art over anything else.
Also according to 108, art should be an all-encompassing force capable of reawakening and reconnecting the inner self to what the current over rational civilization solely focused on material achievements has forgotten over the centuries: the irrational, the unconscious, the mysterious – as in the ecstasy-inducing Dionysian mysteries, providing freedom from society’s constraints and a return to primordial nature.
In the same way, the artist should act as a medium and regard his art as a portal leading beyond the visible to transcend reality.
As always, and perhaps now more than ever, 108 has worked entirely unencumbered by the control of rationality.
The abstract shapes that constitute To The Clouds – the title of an Orphic hymn that celebrates humanity’s interdependence with Mother Earth – are almost meditative tools, mainly black, as with its incomparable symbolic and visual impact, is the colour that also formally expresses the marked duality of the artist’s works: plenitude and, at the same time, emptiness.
108’s entire comprehensive artistic practice is aimed at transcending the subordination of reality and at releasing the most instinctive part of its essence, at least on the level of the intangible. The arrangement itself of the works in the gallery perfectly summarizes the tension resulting from the attempt to reconcile rational and non-rational: the linearity of the installation is interrupted by a random accumulation of irregular shapes and primitive ceramics – in 108’s own words, a “museum to the inexplicable” – that reﬂects the inexorable afﬁrmation of irrationality over reason.
108 (born 1978) is an Italian artist in the field of street art and contemporary art from Alessandria. 108 has moved from working in traditional graffiti art to painting large and mysterious figures that invade public spaces. He was the first writer to use numbers instead of letters for his name. He started working when he was a child on the streets of Alessandria, and used different names. His work has appeared on the streets of Milan, Paris, London, Berlin, and New York City. His first works known by people are enigmatic “blob”-like yellow shapes. It is his firm intention to make visual chaos. His new works are labyrinths, dead trees, non figurative 3D objects and installations, but especially black and gloomy shapes, becoming one of the biggest and influential artists in graffiti abstractism. In the last years, he took part in a lot of international exhibitions: Nusign 2.4 in Paris, Urban Edge Show in Milano, Segundo and Tercer Asalto in Zaragoza and, in 2007 he was invited to join the project called Walls inside the Biennale di Venezia with JR and Daim. During March 2008 he was invited to join Nomadaz (a show curated by Pablo Aravena) in Los Angeles with Eltono, Dem, Microbo and other artists to represent Europe in the U.S.A. 108’s doomy black abstractions are engaging and challenging in equal measure. Whether it be within the confines of a small room in the abandoned monastery, where the large triangular constructions are most effective and have the effect of warping and playing with the room’s dimensions as the viewer attempts to back away and comprehend the pieces, or as a surreal floating void on a wall beside a busy road.
- Format: Softcover
- Pages: 196
- Date of publication: December 2013
- Language: English
- Format: Hardcover
- Pages: 140
- Date of publication: 2012
- Language: English, Spanish
- Format: Hardcover
- Pages: 144
- Date of publication: 2012
- Language: Chinese, English