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First U.S. exhibition of French artist Pierre Antoniucci opens at Modernism
Pierre Antoniucci, Cheval Ponja, June 2012. Oil on resin, 25 x 26 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Modernism presents the first U.S. exhibition of French artist Pierre Antoniucci.

Drawing from sources ranging from antiquity to modernism, Antoniucci melds these together, dissolving the classic periods of chronological history in favor of an unbroken layer of globalization that stretches back to the dawn of human history, which day by day gets denser and more tightly woven than the previous day. The current exhibition features two major bodies of work by Antoniucci from the past ten years, both examining the theme of time, yet via different paths.

In Antoniucci’s most recent series, the paintings take inspiration from French author Alain Borer’s (recipient of the Prix Apolllinaire for Icare & I don’t) dramatic work Le Quadrige Invectif (The Unruly Four-In-Hand—soon to be published in English by Martin Muller Books). Here, Borer’s text itself sparks a cavalcade of figures across various time periods (Pegasus and his mare Darling; Fausto Coppi, the dominant cyclist of the 1940s and 50s; and Richard Mille, a contemporary luxury watchmaker), who come together in an abstract expanse that can not really be described as a physical place. These characters engage in a “race against time” on hoof, bicycle, and Bugatti, bantering back and forth as they go along.

The artist’s blank canvas here merges with the writer’s blank page. The text’s displacement and temporal slippage soon divert the cavalcade of figures into a cosmic cavalcade—poetic imagery radiates from the mix of stampedes, sudden halts, and climaxes. Antoniucci has adopted the angle of childhood, of a clownish, mischievous Chronos who draws us into time’s clock case, with its gears and wheels, the whole mechanism being part of the celestial universe.

In the second body of work Antoniucci continues to explore the theme of portraiture. In one grouping of works, La Jeune Femme au Ruban (Young Girl With a Ribbon), 2011, color resides only in faces and hands. The bodies are reduced to a kind of silhouette, which seems to be vanishing. “It’s the passing of time,” says Antoniucci, “that makes these figures fade, shrink, lighten, and disperse—it minimalizes them, turning them into ghosts or angels.” Although some figures have lost their color, their bodies are very present—a presence with what you might call a paradoxically heavy lightness. The pale gray color of the bodies is the same as the ground; only the texture of the silhouette is present. As time moves on, becoming more remote, it inevitably takes the disappearing body along with it. What remains, in a kind of abstract punctuation, are hands and faces. They exist in a residual, angelic space, as markers of human expressiveness t hat attract and hold memories. “The bright colors of the hands and faces were added by spraying pigment—through filters—over layers of acrylic. Sometimes,” says Antoniucci, “I wondered whether I was painting them or applying make-up to them.”

Pierre ANTONIUCCI has exhibited extensively in Europe, and is in the collection of several French museums.

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